Pompeo tells Trudeau US focused on release of two Canadians in China


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday

Beijing detained ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on December 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Pompeo was visiting Ottawa for the day ahead of a weekend summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in France where relations with China are set to be discussed. She faces USA charges of conspiring to defraud global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran.

After having successfully thwarted - at least for now - the opposition-driven push to hold a full parliamentary probe into the federal ethics commissioner's report on his conduct in the SNC-Lavalin affair, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set for a sit-down meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who arrives in the capital this morning for a whirlwind one-day stop in Ottawa ahead of the annual G7 summit, which is set to get underway in Biarritz on Saturday, and where, according to CBC News, he may face increased pressure from newly installed United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson over the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal.

The pair, now facing espionage charges, were detained after Canadian police picked up Huawei Technologies Co Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December on a US arrest warrant.

Trudeau said on Wednesday his government had no intention of backing down in the dispute with China and would defend Canada's interests.

The meeting is a follow up to Trudeau's June meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., and a phone call the two leaders held last week.

"Please do know our team is focused on helping those two Canadians be released", Pompeo said to Trudeau, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and members of the media.

Officials say the wide range of issues to be discussed include the ongoing tensions in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests have been escalating for weeks, sparked by proposed legislation that would have seen some suspects in criminal cases sent to mainland China for trial.

"The Canadian side's erroneous remarks confuse violent violations with peaceful assembly, ignoring the fact that the Hong Kong police force punishes violence according to law", it said.

The two men were taken into custody in China shortly after Canada arrested Ms Meng on behalf of the US.

The war of words continued Thursday during a regular press conference in China with a foreign ministry spokesperson.

He also met with Canadian business executives - including Canada's largest agricultural exporter Richardson International, which saw its canola shipments to China blocked this year.

China and the US are now embroiled in a trade war that has roiled global financial markets.

China issued comments Thursday saying the fate of the two Canadians, and the increasing difficulties in China-Canada relations, is Canada's fault and is linked to Meng's detention.

In response to a question about whether Canada has asked the United States to drop its extradition request to help secure the release of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, Ms. Freeland stressed that the shared border between Canada and the United States wouldn't work without the extradition treaty. "The case of Ms Meng is now before the Canadian courts, as it ought to be".

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