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'Great for Canada' if US drops extradition request for Huawei CFO

[OTTAWA, Canada] Ottawa's ambassador to China told a Canadian newspaper Friday that it would be "great for Canada" if the US dropped its extradition request for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

The remarks to The Vancouver Star come one day after he walked back comments that the detained Chinese executive has a "strong case" against extradition to the United States.

"From Canada's point of view, if (the US) drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada," ambassador John McCallum told the Star.

Ms Meng was arrested on December 1 while changing planes in Vancouver at the request of the United States, which says she committed fraud by lying to bankers about allegedly violating American sanctions on Iran.

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She has been released on bail, but her arrest has sparked an escalating diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.

Mr McCallum on Tuesday briefed lawmakers on the plight of two Canadians detained in China and a third placed on death row in what are widely seen as retaliatory moves by Beijing.

After the briefing, he told Chinese-language media in Markham, Ontario that he believed the US extradition request is seriously flawed.

He cited political comments on the case by US President Donald Trump, the "extraterritorial aspect" of Ms Meng's case, and the fact that Canada did not sign on to the Iran sanctions that Washington wants her extradited for.

Mr McCallum's remarks were immediately panned by opposition parties and others for seeming to undercut the strict hands-off approach to judicial matters touted by the Canadian government.

The following day he issued a statement saying that he "misspoke," and "regrets" that his comments "have created confusion."

On Friday, speaking at a charity lunch in downtown Vancouver, Mr McCallum told the Star that if the United States strikes a trade deal with China it should also benefit Canada.

"We have to make sure that if the US does such a deal, it also includes the release of our two people. And the US is highly aware of that," he said.

Canadian officials did not have any immediate reaction to the comments when contacted by AFP.

Ms Meng's extradition hearing is expected to start in February. The process could take months or years.

AFP