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Freeland Brings Up Detained Canadians In Talk With Chinese Foreign Minister

It was their first face-to-face conversation since the arrest of a Huawei executive.

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday that she met her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to discuss tensions following Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive on a U.S. warrant last December, and the subsequent detention of two Canadians by China.

“The fact that we were able to speak and discuss these issues face-to-face, directly with one another, absolutely is a positive step,” Freeland said in a teleconference from Bangkok, where she was attending an annual east Asia summit.

Freeland said the two ministers met on the sidelines of the international gathering and “committed to continued discussions,” but she gave few details about their conversation.

It was the first encounter between the two since Canada detained Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou — the daughter of the Chinese company’s founder — in December. Beijing is demanding her return.

She is facing possible extradition to the U.S. to face charges that she conspired to defraud global banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company operating in Iran.

“Minister Wang expressed concerns regarding the extradition process of Meng Wanzhou,” Freeland said without elaborating.

After Meng was picked up in Vancouver, China detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and later charged them with spying.

Freeland said on Friday she expressed Canada’s concerns over the two men, “who have been arbitrarily detained in China.”

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