Canadian officials have received confirmation that U.S. President Donald Trump raised the matter of the two Canadians detained by China during a weekend meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a government source.
The confirmation comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by reporters on Tuesday whether he had received any assurance that Trump raised the issue as he had promised to do. Trudeau responded by saying he was “confident” the conversation took place but did not provide any explanation of why he was confident.
“We do have confirmation that President Trump raised the issue in a clear and substantive way with President Xi,” said the source, speaking on background with Global News. The source added that the confirmation was not new, indicating Trudeau had that information when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
CBC News first reported the development.
WATCH BELOW: Trump willing to raise Canada’s concerns to Chinese president
Trump promised to raise the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor directly with Xi last week, saying that, at Trudeau’s request, “I will absolutely bring that up.”
He also pledged: “Anything I can do to help Canada, I will be doing.”
Both Kovrig and Spavor were detained in December 2018 just days after Canadian border officials detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the behest of American authorities, who charged her and her company with 23 counts of skirting sanctions on Iran and corporate espionage the following month.
China has demanded Canada free Meng, who is free on bail and living in her multi-million dollar Vancouver home while her extradition case works its way through the courts. In contrast, Kovrig and Spavor are being detained with no access to lawyers and limited consular visits.
WATCH BELOW: China denounces Canada for ‘naive’ approach over detained citizens
Canadian officials have been working a concerted campaign behind the scenes to get allies to pressure China about the detentions
Dozens have spoken out in support of Canada since Kovrig and Spavor were detained and rallying that support was a key focus for the government at the recent G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, over the weekend.
Chinese officials billed those efforts on Wednesday as “naive.”
Canadian International Trade Minister Jim Carr hit back at that accusation on Wednesday when asked about it by reporters.
“We have countless conversations with our allies and wherever I travel in the world, I talk to Canada’s allies about this difficult moment we’re having with China,” he said in response.
“Who are they to say there’s no value in Canada talking to its allies about issues we have abroad? In a multilateral system, that’s how we do diplomacy.”