Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said Friday the detention of two Canadians in China was "unlawful" and "they should be returned".
China's arrest of two Canadians – a diplomat and a merchant – came after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on US arrest warrants. It is free of $ 10 million of bonds, while a Canadian judge decides whether or not to extradite them to the United States.
In an interview with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Pompeo said the US was working to return the Canadians, but provided no details.
It was a welcome support for Freeland, whose government has now become collateral damage, as China, some analysts seem, seems to be conducting hostage diplomacy, but Freeland also had e Some strong words on defense of the rule of law in Meng's extradition, days after President Donald Trump told Reuters he would "intervene safely" to help US trade talks with China.
"We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly, and the detention of these two Canadian citizens in China should come to an end," Pompeo said Friday.
He denied that Meng's arrest was linked to these US-Chinese trade tensions and said that the US was involved in litigation seeking a "fair outcome."
Citing the various problems in US-China relations, Pompeo added, "We are working on each one of them to achieve good results for the people of China and the rule of law every step of the way, which we will do here too. "
Meng and her company Huawei are being charged with using a subsidiary to violate US sanctions against Iran and to lie to investors and financial institutions. She was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 and released on $ 7.4 million bail this week. She was monitored for 24 hours with a curfew and ankle bracelet in Canada.
Canada also tried to separate the issues, with Freeland saying that the country "did not make a political ruling" when it arrested Meng, but that it kept its extradition treaty with the US and upheld the rule of law.
Canada has "acted conscientiously in line with our contractual obligations and in accordance with the rule of law," she added.
But this was questioned by Trump's comments on Reuters Tuesday: "If I think it's good for what will surely be the biggest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – good for national security is – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary. "The US and China are preparing for negotiations on trade and other economic issues after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to raise pay scales during a meeting at the G20 reside in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month.
Freeland subtly dug into Trump, reiterating Canada's commitment to due process and the rule of law. Canada recognizes that rule of law and extradition issues must never be politicized or used as a means of solving other problems. "
But later, she also seemed to defend the US by saying Canada and Canada share the same values: "In both countries, we have a deep respect for the rule of law and strong and independent judicial authorities."
US. Justice Department officials said they only "follow the facts" and justify "violations of US law."
When she was pressed for a Chinese hostage diplomacy, she said that "Chinese officials who are in contact with Canada have not drawn any connection between these various issues."
Canada's ambassador was able to visit one of the imprisoned men – Michael Kovrig – but Freeland declined to comment on his status, citing his privacy. She said the Canadian government is "very, very self-conscious, we are very worried about these two Canadians."