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Pompeo says U.S. officials are focusing on release of two Canadians in China

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Trudeau’s office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday assured Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that American officials were working to free two Canadian men who were detained by China late last year.

The pair, now facing espionage charges, were held after Canadian police picked up Huawei Technologies Co HWT.UL Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December on a U.S. arrest warrant.

“Please do note that our team is focused on helping those two Canadians be released,” Pompeo said at the start of a meeting in Ottawa with Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“It’s wrong that they are being held,” he added. Officials say the topic of China will be high on the agenda for the talks.

Trudeau said on Wednesday that his government had no intention of backing down in the dispute with China and would defend Canada’s interests.

In a statement to Reuters on Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa blamed Canada for the “gross difficulties” in bilateral ties and demanded the release of Meng.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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via Reuters