John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has arrived in London for talks at which he is expected to urge Britain to toughen its stance on Iran and Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei.
As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union on 31 October, many diplomats expect London to become increasingly reliant on the United States.
Bolton arrived on Sunday night and will hold talks on Monday and Tuesday. They will include a heavy focus on Brexit, reflecting the Trump White House’s attempts to solidify ties with Boris Johnson’s new government after Trump’s strained relationship with his predecessor Theresa May.
The hardliner is expected to urge British officials to align policy on Iran more closely with that of Washington, which has pressured Tehran with an increase in sanctions after the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
Britain has so far backed the European Union in sticking with the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last month put pressure on London to consider a tougher stance.
That move was in response to British marines seizing an Iranian vessel, which was suspected of smuggling oil to Syria, off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4. This month, Britain joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels.
A Trump administration official said the British will be told that it would help add pressure on Iran if London also declared the JCPOA dead, but that such a decision was not expected soon.
Trump has also pushed Britain to get tougher on Huawei out of concern that its next-generation 5G technology represents a national security risk. Washington wants its allies to avoid using equipment from Huawei.
Under May, the British government decided in principle to give Huawei limited access to non-core parts of the 5G network, but Bolton hopes that the Johnson government will prove more amenable. A final British decision has not yet been taken.
Trump and Johnson have spoken frequently on the phone since the new prime minister took powerThe two leaders are to meet later this month at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Bolton, who met last week with foreign secretary Dominic Raab in Washington, will meet senior civil servants and Downing Street officials on Monday, as well as chancellor Sajid Javid.
On Tuesday, Bolton is due to meet international trade secretary Liz Truss , and Ben Wallace, the defence secretary.