US President Donald Trump raised the issue of two Canadians detained in China with President Xi Jinping in a recent meeting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Thursday.
Trudeau had earlier said he was “confident” that Trump discussed with Xi the detention of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor, who are being held in China on suspicion of espionage.
“I can confirm that Mr. Trump did speak to his Chinese counterpart about the detained Canadians. This is a concern for us in Canada, but it is also a concern for our allies around the world,” Trudeau told a press conference in Montreal.
“I think that what we’re seeing is that so many allies are concerned about the fate of these Canadians and that they’re concerned about the behavior of China in relation to Canada. The type of behavior that could affect other countries as well,” he added.
Relations with China soured in December after Canadian authorities took into custody Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese telecom giant Huawei, who is wanted by the United States on charges of circumventing sanctions on Iran.
Since then, China has blocked imports of Canadian agricultural products in addition to detaining the two Canadians, moves Beijing says are unrelated to the Huawei issue.
During a meeting at the White House before the G20 summit, Trudeau asked Trump to raise the issue of the detained men with the Chinese leader when they met at the summit. Trump reportedly said that he would do what he could.
Meanwhile China earlier this week warned Canada not to be “naive” and think that US pressure could help it resolve the spat.