Trudeau, Trump discuss coronavirus, detained Canadians during phone call: readout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday to wish him well after he and his wife were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, according to a brief summary of their conversation released by the prime minister’s office.

Trump spent three days at Walter Reed Medical Centre in Maryland last week to seek treatment for COVID-19, after announcing he and his wife Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus.

The Republican president has since returned home, and is scheduled to restart his 2020 re-election campaign on Saturday with an event at the White House, followed by a rally in Florida.

According to a readout of the call, Trudeau also “recalled the President’s expression of concern for Sophie Gregoire Trudeau’s health after her COVID-19 diagnosis” in March.

The readout also says Trump and Trudeau discussed “the ongoing efforts to manage the pandemic and keep citizens in both countries safe.”

The call comes as Canada works to stave off a second wave of the novel coronavirus, having reported more than 2,500 new cases of the respiratory illness on Friday.

Meanwhile, the United States remained the epicentre of the virus on Saturday, with more than 7.6 million confirmed COVID-19 infections to date.

Last month, the countries announced their shared border would remain closed to all non-essential travel until Oct. 21 in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

According to the readout, the leaders also discussed the detention of two Canadian men — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

The men have been detained in China since December of 2018.

Kovrig and Spavor were arrested separately shortly after Canadian authorities in Vancouver detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, who is wanted in the United States on fraud charges.

They were each charged with spying in June.

Shortly after the men were charged, U.S. Secratary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to release the Canadians, calling the allegations “groundless.”

“The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada,” Pompeo said in a statement.

According to the readout, Trudeau thanked the President on Saturday “for the ongoing support of the United States in seeking the immediate release” of the men.

In an update on Saturday, Global Affairs Canada said the country’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, was granted consular access to Spavor on Friday, and to Kovrig on Saturday.

The agency said Canadian officials will “continue to provide consular services” to the men and their families.

“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release,” the update reads.

— With a file from the Canadian Press

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