U.S., Poland may sign 5G network security agreement on Pence visit: White House official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Poland may sign an agreement aimed at securing 5G networks when U.S. Vice President Michael Pence visits Warsaw in the coming days, a senior White House official said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence walks outside Hotel Bayerischer Hof during Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Pence leaves on 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 would be in the United States while Hurricane Dorian here is bearing down on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Pence will attend ceremonies marking the start of World War Two 80 years ago. But he will also discuss with Polish officials how to maintain cyber security with 5G technology edging closer and Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd under scrutiny.

The United States has led a global campaign to convince allies to ban Huawei, the world’s top telecommunications equipment supplier, from 5G networks. The U.S. government says Huawei is able to spy on customers, has violated U.S. sanctions on Iran and stolen American intellectual property. Huawei denies the allegations.

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 echo those of a senior Polish official on Thursday. Poland in July proposed tightening its cyber security 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.

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.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Steve Holland; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Grant McCool