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WASHINGTON – The United States and Poland may sign an agreement aimed at securing 5G networks when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits Warsaw in the coming days, a senior White House official said Friday.
Pence leaves Saturday night on a trip to Poland, Ireland, Iceland and Britain. President Donald Trump had planned to make the trip himself, but Pence is going instead so that Trump can remain in the United States as Hurricane Dorian approaches the Atlantic coast.
Pence will attend ceremonies marking the start of World War II 80 years ago. But he will also discuss with Polish officials how to maintain cybersecurity with 5G technology edging closer and Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. under scrutiny.
The United States has led a global campaign to persuade allies to ban Huawei, the world’s top telecommunications equipment supplier, from 5G networks. The U.S. government says Huawei can spy on customers, has violated U.S. sanctions on Iran and has stolen American intellectual property. Huawei denies the allegations.
Guarding against ‘adversary nations’
A goal of a U.S.-Poland 5G agreement would be to protect networks from unauthorized access and interference from telecommunications suppliers controlled by “adversary nations,” the official said, without naming any companies or countries.
“Important steps are being taken, some of which we may be able to announce in the next day or two, to develop a common approach to a 5G network security between our two countries to ensure a secure and vibrant 5G ecosystem,” the official said.
The comments echoed those of a senior Polish official on Thursday. Poland in July proposed tightening its cybersecurity standards and could ban certain products or suppliers from parts of a future 5G network.
The Polish official said no specific company or equipment from any particular country would be excluded as part of any agreement with the United States, although security and cooperation with Washington would be an important aspect.
Visa waiver program
No announcement is expected from Pence about Poland’s request to join the U.S. visa waiver program. Poland has made progress toward meeting the necessary requirements but has not cleared the final hurdles, the senior U.S. official said.
Washington has touted Poland’s commitment to fund its military to meet NATO requirements, and Trump signed an agreement during a June visit by Polish President Andrzej Duda to send 1,000 U.S. troops to Poland. Trump previously visited Poland in July 2017, a few months after taking office.