Mike Pompeo wears face mask as he arrives in London for talks on China and Brexit

20 July 2020, 23:20

Mike Pompeo wears a stars and stripes face mask as he arrives in London for trade talks
Mike Pompeo wears a stars and stripes face mask as he arrives in London for trade talks. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in London ahead of talks with Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab about a host of issues.

He was pictured descending from the steps of his aircraft wearing a face mask with the American flag on it.

Mr Pompeo was then greeted by US Ambassador Woody Johnson, before departing the airport without talking to the press.

He wrote on Twitter: "Great to be back in London to reaffirm the special relationship we share with our closest ally.

"Looking forward to meeting with Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab as we tackle our most pressing global issues in combating Covid-19 and addressing our shared security challenges."

The US and UK will have a number of topics to cover with one another, most notably the ongoing UK-US trade negotiations as Britain comes out of the EU.

Mr Pompeo is expected to meet with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his two-day visit.

One of the most contentious issues on the agenda for the two nations to discuss is that of chlorinated-chickens and hormone-injected beef, both of which are banned in the UK.

Mike Pompeo lands in London
Mike Pompeo lands in London. Picture: PA

However, the US wants their farmers to have unfettered access to the agriculture market in Britain, despite growing unease amongst British politicians and animal welfare campaigners, who are keen to see the country retain high standards in agriculture rules.

The topic of China is also likely to be discussed, following the UK's decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks.

The arrival of the former US army officer also comes after the UK suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and slapped an arms embargo on the territory in response to China's national security law.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the measures were a "reasonable and proportionate" response to the law imposed by Beijing - a law Washington has joined in criticising.

The frosty relations between the US and China led to President Donald Trump's administration imposing sanctions on Huawei over security concerns.

When the announcement was made last week, Mr Pompeo said it "advances transatlantic security" and protects "citizens' privacy, national security, and free-world values".

Backbench Tories, including Commons Liaison Committee chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin, have been pressing for a tougher approach to Beijing, particularly in relation to its role in building nuclear power plants in Britain.

China has since hit out at the Government's decision, questioning whether the UK can provide a "fair" environment for business as tensions with Beijing deepened.

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, tweeted: "Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on Huawei.

"It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries."

The world leaders are also expected to discuss the ongoing search for a Coronavirus vaccine, and their country's responses to ensuring the economy can recover after a testing year, which has seen both the UK and US's markets suffer after months of shutdown,

In a statement, the US State Department said: "While in London, Secretary Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to discuss global priorities, including the COVID-19 economic recovery plans, issues related to the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) and Hong Kong, and the U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement negotiations."