U.S. President Donald Trump greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 11 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

Trudeau thanks Trump for support in diplomatic tiff with China

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked President Donald Trump for “strong support” by the United States in response to the detention of two Canadians in China, according to the readout of the phone conversation between the two leaders released by the Prime Minister’s Office Monday.

The two leaders agreed to continue to seek the release of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based entrepreneur Michael Spavor, according to the readout.

It is believed they were arrested by Chinese authorities in early December in response to the earlier arrest in Canada of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Chinese authorities have said the two Canadians are being investigated for activities “endangering national security.”

Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities.

Meng was released on bail to await the results of extradition hearings to the U.S., where she’s facing charges of violating American sanctions on Iran, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years jail for each charge.

China has demanded her immediate and unconditional release.

Respecting rule of law

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, right, is escorted by a member of her private security detail while arriving at a parole office, in Vancouver, on December 12. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian officials insist that there has been no political interference in her arrest and it will be up to the Canadian judicial system to decide whether she is extradited to the U.S. to face the charges against her.

However, Trump indicated in an interview last month that he was willing to intervene in Meng’s case if the U.S. were able to get a better trade deal with China, drawing criticism from Canadian officials for politicizing the sensitive case.

Then just before Christmas U.S. officials came out with a statement demanding the immediate release of the two detained Canadians.

Trudeau and Trump discussed the U.S. extradition request, the readout said.

“They reaffirmed the importance of respecting judicial independence and the rule of law,” it added.

According to the readout, Trudeau and Trump also discussed the newly renegotiated free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“They reaffirmed their support for workers affected by the closure of General Motors plants in Canada and the United States, and discussed next steps in addressing steel and aluminum tariffs,” the readout said.

The two leaders also discussed their respective visits in December to visit troops serving overseas – Trudeau visited Canadian troops stationed in northern Mali in support of a UN peacekeeping mission and Trump visited U.S. troops in Iraq.

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