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Canada's new foreign minister says he pressed China on detainees

Canada's new foreign minister says he pressed China on detainees
FILE PHOTO: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne attend the plenary session at the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nagoya, Japan, November 23, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon -
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KIM KYUNG-HOON(Reuters)
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who has been in the job for four days, said on Saturday he had pressed his Chinese counterpart about the case of two Canadian citizens jailed in Beijing.

China says the two men are being held on state secrets charges. They were detained last December, shortly after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [] Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant.

Champagne, named to his post in a cabinet shuffle on Wednesday, said he had raised the matter when he met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for almost an hour on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting in Nagoya, Japan.

“In particular I expressed my concern and the concern of all Canadians regarding the conditions of their detention. Mr Wang and I committed to … continue discussing this issue,” Champagne told reporters on a conference call from Tokyo.

Canadian diplomats make regular consular visits to the two men, neither of whom has yet been allowed to see a lawyer.

Champagne declined to give details of what he called a good, frank and substantive conversation with Wang, saying that would not be in the detainees’ interests.

“There was receptivity of the concern of Canada,” said Champagne, who spoke in English.

The meeting was the first between the two countries’ top diplomats since Wang met Chrystia Freeland, Champagne’s predecessor, in August this year.

China’s new ambassador to Ottawa on Friday repeated a demand that Canada immediately release Meng, who is the daughter of the Huawei founder. China has also blocked imports of canola seed from Canada.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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