OTTAWA — Donald Trump has affirmed his respect for judicial independence, the Prime Minister’s Office says, less than a month after the U.S. president baldly said he would intervene in Meng Wanzhou’s pending extradition from Canada if it would help forge a trade deal with China.
In a summary of a phone call Monday between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the PMO indicated the leaders discussed the high-profile U.S. extradition request — though Meng was not named — and agreed on the importance of respecting the independence of judges and the rule of law.
China has pressed Canada to get Meng freed from the extradition process, which Canadian politicians have replied they simply aren’t allowed to do.
Trudeau also thanked Trump for the “strong statements of support” by the U.S. in response to the “arbitrary detention” of two Canadians in China, the summary says. “The two leaders agreed to continue to seek their release.”
Entrepreneur Michael Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig, a diplomat on leave from Global Affairs Canada, were taken into Chinese custody on security grounds in December.
Beijing’s actions came just days after Canadian authorities in Vancouver arrested Meng, a senior executive with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies, who is wanted by the U.S. on fraud charges.
Meng’s arrest infuriated Beijing, and many western analysts see China’s detention of Spavor and Kovrig as retaliation.
Trudeau said at the time that Canada, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S., was merely following standard legal protocol.
Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, told reporters it was “absolutely false” to assume a political motive behind Meng’s arrest. However, Trump muddied the waters the same day by telling Reuters in an interview that he would “certainly intervene” in Meng’s case “if I thought it was necessary” to help ensure a trade deal with China.