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Freeland says Chinese minister won't talk with her about detainees

Last Updated May 28, 2019 at 12:32 pm PST

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland walks to a committee hearing in Ottawa, Tuesday May 28, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she wants to talk to China’s foreign minister about the two Canadians China has accused of undermining its national security.

Freeland is appearing at the House of Commons foreign-affairs committee in Ottawa today.

She says she has talked with China’s ambassador to Canada about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been in Chinese custody since December.

Related video: China arrests 2 Canadians in case with ties to Huawei

China hasn’t reacted to Freeland’s offer to also meet with the Chinese foreign minister but she says she is open to doing so whenever China is ready.

“It is our understanding that in these situations, the Chinese practice tends to be — and Canada is not the only country that has found itself in this situation,” Freeland said. “The Chinese practice tends to be to hold off on meetings at the highest level.”

Spavor and Kovrig were detained in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, on an extradition warrant from the United States.

Freeland says Canada isn’t the only country that has dealt with the Chinese government’s practice of holding off on meetings “at the highest levels.”

The Canadian Press