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Freeland lands meeting with Chinese counterpart to talk about detainees

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Chrystia Freeland speaks during a panel at the Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto, on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj

Chrystia Freeland suggested meeting with her Chinese counterpart was a 'positive step' toward getting detainees released

Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor continue to be detained in China in apparent retaliation of Huawei CFO arrest

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested at YVR in December at the request of the U.S. on fraud charges

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is describing a face-to-face meeting with her Chinese counterpart as a positive step in a complicated relationship between the two countries.

Freeland says she met with Wang Yi during a summit of Southeast Asian nations this week in Bangkok, Thailand.

She had previously been rebuffed in her attempts to talk with Weng about Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who are being detained in China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States.

During a conference call Friday morning, Freeland says she believes the meeting was a positive step towards getting the two Canadians released.

She says Weng “expressed concerns” about Meng’s extradition process to the United States, but she refused to elaborate.

When the meeting was over, she says the two agreed they would keep the lines of communication open.

Opposition leader critical

Despite Freeland’s positive review of her own meeting, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer criticized the Liberals for not doing more to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“They still haven’t even taken the step of appointing an ambassador,” he said. “Something that should be very, very straightforward for this government. They have not filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization for China’s actions against our canola, beef, and pork exports. So you’ll pardon me if I’m not about to congratulate the minister of foreign affairs here for taking a very basic step here. There’s far more that they should have been doing much, much earlier.”