Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already spoken on the phone with US President Joe Biden, in his first call to a foreign leader following his inauguration, on January 22. (REUTERS)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already spoken on the phone with US President Joe Biden, in his first call to a foreign leader following his inauguration, on January 22. (REUTERS)

US to help free Canadians held in China, Harris assures Trudeau

Harris “expressed strong solidarity with Canada regarding the issue of two Canadian citizens unjustly detained by China, and she made clear that the United States would continue to do everything it can to secure their release.”
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON FEB 02, 2021 11:48 AM IST

In her first conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Vice-President Kamala Harris assured him of the support of United States for securing the release of two Canadians held captive in China.

A readout of the conversation stated that Harris “expressed strong solidarity with Canada regarding the issue of two Canadian citizens unjustly detained by China, and she made clear that the United States would continue to do everything it can to secure their release.”

Trudeau thanked Harris for the “United States’ ongoing support to free Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been arbitrarily detained in China,” said a readout from the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office.

Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China soon after Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 on charges of allegedly defrauding a bank to evade sanctions against Iran.

Trudeau has previously described Beijing’s action against the two Canadians as “hostage diplomacy” and the matter has led to severe strain in ties between the two countries.

Trudeau also congratulated Harris on her “historic election” and she “recalled fondly her years spent in Montréal.”

Trudeau also discussed the Buy America policy of the Joe Biden administration which has raised concerns within the Canadian government for its protectionist overtones. The readout said that he “looked forward to strengthening the bilateral trading relationship and Canada-US supply chains, and avoiding the unintended consequences.” Cooperation between the two North American neighbours in combating the Covid-19 pandemic was also discussed. Climate change also figured on the agenda as did “North American energy security”, shorthand for Trudeau pushing the Biden administration to reverse its decision to cancel permission granted earlier to the contentious Keystone XL Pipeline project.

Trudeau has already spoken to Biden twice since he was elected, and the two leaders are expected to meet in person this month.

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