PARIS - Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said a decision by France regarding the 5G telecoms network would be based on security and performance of networks, and added that Paris would not rule out a specific operator as not being welcome.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was not the aim of France to block Huawei, nor to launch any form of technological war, a day after the U.S. government moved to blacklist the Chinese telecoms giant.
"We want to carry out a careful control of this 5G deployment ... without designating an operator as unwelcome in France," Le Maire told reporters on Tuesday.
France's ARCEP telecoms regulator also said on Tuesday that 5G deployment would go ahead as planned in 2020 despite the current difficulties faced by Huawei.
"We will take decisions based on technological interest and the strategic security of our networks," said Le Maire.
He added that it was by no means certain that Huawei had the best technology. Paris would assess all the alternatives very closely, he said.
"I'm not sure that we don't have a choice. There are other operators that offer solutions and we are going to assess that in the coming months," he said, referring to Sweden's Ericsson.
"I met the president of Ericsson and he presented technological options... this idea that there is only Huawei and all the other firms are so far behind needs to be checked and can be questioned," said Le Maire.
The U.S. Commerce Department on Friday blocked Huawei from buying U.S. goods, saying the firm was involved in activities contrary to national security, a move that could in turn have an impact on Europe as it begins to roll out 5G services.
"The Huawei-Google affair is quite rightly making so much noise because Google has restricted Huawei of access to technology on Android and this illustrates the clearest example of this technological war," said Le Maire.
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta) ((email@example.com; +33 1 49 49 54 52;))