China ignored Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's personal request for dialogue to end a spiralling diplomatic row, his office revealed Wednesday.
In a move widely seen as retaliation and described by observers as "hostage diplomacy", Beijing detained two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
Trudeau requested the call in January with Premier Li Keqiang so he could "personally advocate" for the immediate release of two Canadians detained a month earlier and for clemency in the case of another Canadian who would later be sentenced to death for drug trafficking, his spokeswoman Chantal Gagnon said in a statement.
Businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were detained separately in December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a US extradition warrant.
Trudeau said last week he would look at whether it was "appropriate or desirable" to seek a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month. Global Affairs Canada says Spavor received his eighth consular visit from Canadian diplomats on Thursday, one day after Kovrig's latest visit.
Trudeau and Trump are also expected to discuss the wrongful detention of two Canadian citizens in China.
Now, with the recent removal of US tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports, there is renewed momentum to ratify the new trade pact. Trudeau has tabled the government's ratification bill and it is winding its way through Parliament - slowly - ahead of next week's adjournment of the House of Commons.
Canada and Mexico are ready to ratify the new NAFTA, but the U.S. Congress is less enthusiastic, with some members seeking stronger provisions on labour and environmental standards in Mexico before they take it up.
Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during a news conference at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C., U.S., June 13, 2019.