China top of the agenda as Trudeau, Pompeo meet in Ottawa

China top of the agenda as Trudeau, Pompeo meet in Ottawa

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured Canada on Thursday that the United States was working to get China to release two Canadians it detained a year ago on espionage charges in cases linked to a USA criminal charge against a Chinese technology executive. The plights of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and how to deal with Chinese aggression more broadly, are expected to be a major focus of the meeting between the leaders.

Pompeo said the USA would continue to raise the matter of the two Canadians' "unlawful detention" with China "until such time as they're home and returned to their families". "China needs to honour the commitments it's made to the world". "We are working on it diligently".

Pompeo also stressed the desire to get CUSMA, the renegotiated NAFTA trade deal, ratified.

"We do not escalate, but we also don't back down".

Relations have been icy since Meng was detained in Vancouver last December on a USA warrant.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, is accused of lying to banks about the company's dealing with Iran in violation of US trade sanctions.

After Freeland's long and drawn out response - her short answer was essentially no - Pompeo teed off on Jakes, accusing her of taking "the Chinese line" on a diplomatic crisis that has caused relations between Canada and China to reach their nadir. "As for the US case against Ms. Meng, I think that's a matter for the USA and the US criminal justice system".

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 USA arrest warrant.

"Loudness is not necessarily persuasive and people can tell right from wrong", foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, according to an English transcript of a news conference published online.

Canada and the USA are locked in differing battles with Beijing - the Americans over trade issues, primarily, while Canada is in a diplomatic dance over Kovrig, Spavor and China's decision to block imports of some Canadian agricultural products.

However, government officials say they do not want to do anything that could harm the two detainees.

"We have a lot of issues just ahead of the G7, lots of global issues", he said.

Her arrest put Canada in the centre of a diplomatic struggle between China and the United States, which sought her arrest and is seeking her extradition.

Pompeo's one-day trip to Ottawa was for bilateral discussions on a range of issues in the lead up to the G7 Summit in France next week.

Ahead of their talks, Trudeau said he appreciated USA efforts and would be talking with Pompeo about "how we move forward on that".

Pompeo also discussed ratification of the new free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico during his trip.

Eight months later, Canada-China relations remain poor over Meng's planned extradition to the face criminal trial over Huawei's alleged circumvention of American sanctions on Iran, as well as the detentions of Spavor and Kovrig, which Canada calls "arbitrary".



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