OTTAWA — Security around Parliament Hill has been tightened as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Ottawa on Thursday.
The Parliamentary Protective Service has warned of visibly heightened security around the precinct for Pompeo’s visit “due to the nature of the event.”
Discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will centre around a number of hot-button issues, but the spotlight is expected to be on China and the detention of two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — in that country.
“We’re both thanking the Americans for their support on that issue and continue to talk how we move forward on that,” Trudeau said.
Pompeo says the Trump administration is working diligently to help secure the men’s release.
“Our team is focused on helping those two Canadians be released,” Pompeo added. “China needs to honour the commitments it’s made to the world.”
Meanwhile as the meeting began, the Chinese embassy released a statement blaming Canada for the gross difficulties in the bilateral relationship and calling for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to be released immediately.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December of last year at the request of American authorities on fraud charges. Kovrig and Spavor’s arrests have been seen as retaliation for the telecom executive’s detention.
The situation in Hong Kong and trade were also to be discussed in the sit-down. Trudeau says trade is an important topic as the U.S. and China try to negotiate a deal.
“And how important it is to continue to create a global trading system that works for everyone,” Trudeau said.
U.S. efforts to put together a coalition in order to protect ships in the Strait of Hormuz was another item on the agenda, among other topics.
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) August 22, 2019
After his meeting with Trudeau, Pompeo will visit the National War Memorial and lay a wreath, before moving on to a series of meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Pompeo’s working visit comes in advance of the G7 summit this week in Biarritz, France where Trudeau will gather with the other leaders of the world’s richest seven economies.
It is also seen as a follow up to Trudeau’s June meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., where the two leaders also discussed plans to ratify the new North American trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
At that White House meeting, Trudeau and Trump discussed relations with Beijing as well as the detention of Kovrig and Spavor in China.
The last G7 meeting took place in Canada and ended in a tense spat between Trudeau and Trump over trade issues.