By Agence France-Presse
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he was “confident” US President Donald Trump brought up Canadians held by Beijing during talks with China’s Xi Jinping.
Relations deteriorated between China and Canada following the December arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, a top official in China’s telecom giant Huawei, who is wanted by the United States for allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran.
Since then, Chinese authorities have arrested two Canadians on suspicion of espionage and blocked imports of Canadian agricultural products, moves Beijing says are unrelated to the Huawei case.
Trudeau said he’d spoken to Xi about the detained Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor — during brief, informal exchanges on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan last week.
Ahead of the summit, Trudeau asked Trump to raise the issue of the detained Canadians with the Chinese leader when they met at the summit. Trump reportedly said that he would do what he could.
“I’m confident the Americans brought up the issue, President Trump brought up the issue, of the detained Canadians in China,” said Trudeau, speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“This is an issue we take extremely seriously,” said Trudeau, adding that he has had many conversations with Xi “on this and the larger issue of Canada and China relations.”
Trudeau said that Canada is “pleased that so many countries around the world, allies, friends, others have highlighted to China that the situation that these Canadians find themselves in is unacceptable.”
Zelensky, who took office in May, is on his first visit to North America and is in Toronto to participate in a conference on reforms in his country.