U.S. ambassador to Italy held meeting with TIM’s boss: embassy

ROME (Reuters) – The United States’ ambassador to Italy, Lewis Eisenberg, met Telecom Italia (TIM)’s CEO Luigi Gubitosi on Wednesday, the U.S. embassy said.

Luigi Gubitosi talks during a news conference at the Alitalia headquarters at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, Italy May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The U.S embassy and Telecom Italia declined to comment when asked if the visit was related to U.S. demands that its European allies do not use technology supplied by China’s Huawei International.

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces international scrutiny over its ties with the Chinese government and suspicion Beijing could use its technology for spying — something the company has denied.

Eisenberg saw TIM’s chief “as part of (his) ongoing outreach with Italian and U.S private sector leaders,” the U.S. embassy said on Twitter, adding that the meeting had been “pleasant”.

Eisenberg made no comment to Reuters at the end of his visit at the TIM’s headquarters in Rome, which lasted some 30 minutes.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned European allies on Monday against deploying equipment from Huawei on their soil, saying it would make it more difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.

However, there are signs some European governments are reluctant to heed Washington’s call.

The head of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said on Wednesday Britain is able to manage the security risks of using Huawei equipment in national telecoms networks and has not seen any evidence of malicious activity by the company.

German’s economy minister said earlier this week the government is still in talks on whether Huawei will be allowed to participate in building the country’s high-speed internet infrastructure.

Italy’s industry ministry meanwhile has denied press reports it was ready to ban Huawei and ZTE Corp from playing a role in building its fifth-generation mobile phone network under U.S. pressure.

TIM has said it will keep working with Huawei until told otherwise by the government.

TIM and Fastweb are part of a consortium with Huawei to test 5G infrastructure in the southern towns of Bari and Matera.

Huawei has partnered with Vodafone in developing an ultrafast network in Milan.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Writing by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Crispian Balmer and David Evans

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