U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

Trump vows to do ‘anything’ to help Canada in row with China

U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to champion Canada’s cause during his upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan next week.

Speaking to reporters during a meet-and-greet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office, Trump vowed to do “anything I can do to help Canada.”

Trudeau is in Washington to discuss a range of trade and global issues, and seek Trump’s help in the ongoing diplomatic showdown with China over the arrest of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Canada last December on an extradition request from the United States. She has been granted bail and is now awaiting court proceedings in Vancouver.

Beijing retaliated by arresting two Canadians and accusing them of spying, as well as implementing a series of measures designed to target Canadian agricultural exports to China.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been detained since Dec. 10 and face the death penalty if convicted on spying charges.

Beijing has also refused high level contacts with Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to discuss the row.

Canadian officials say their efforts to organize a short meeting between Trudeau and Xi on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Osaka have been rebuffed so far.

President Donald Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

“I will represent him well,” Trump said when told about Canada’s efforts to set up a meeting with the Chinese leader. “We have a meeting set up with President Xi, and it’s obviously on the big transaction that we’re talking about and negotiating, our people are actually speaking now, we’ll see what happens but anything I can do help Canada I will be doing.”

Asked if he would bring up China’s imprisonment of Kovrig and Spavor when he meets with the Chinese president, Trump said that, “at Justin’s request, I will absolutely bring that up.”

Canada is caught in the middle of a trade war between the two giants and Canadian officials want to make sure that the fate of the two detained Canadians and the economic pressure brought to bear upon Ottawa by China to secure the release of Meng is part of any future deal between Washington and Beijing.

China is demanding Meng’s immediate release and has called on the U.S. to withdraw the extradition request and stop the “unreasonable suppression” of Chinese companies.

The U.S. accuses Meng, Huawei, a U.S. subsidiary and telecom equipment seller Skycom of committing bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges are linked to possible violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

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