Canada won’t say if U.S. agreed to suspend trade deal with China until Canadians let go

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is refusing to say how Washington responded to Canada’s request that it hold off on signing a trade deal with China until Canadian prisoners are released.

Champagne told The Canadian Press today it wouldn’t be in the interests of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig for him to speak publicly about ongoing negotiations for their release from Chinese detention.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a French-language TV network on Thursday he had asked the United States not to sign any final trade agreement with China until the Canadians have been released.

Champagne says many things are happening to secure the release of the two Canadians and that no other foreign-affairs file is receiving more attention.

It has been more than a year since Beijing detained Spavor and Kovrig in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou.

The Globe and Mail reported Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said today that Canada’s request to the U.S. was “doomed to fail.”

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