Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wished U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, well during a phone call on Saturday, following news of the couple’s COVID-19 diagnosis last week.
“The prime minister also recalled the president’s expressions of concern for Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s health after her COVID-19 diagnosis last March,” a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
In early April, Melania Trump also called Grégoire Trudeau following her recovery from the illness.
A source with knowledge of the call who spoke confidentially to CBC News said Trudeau reached out to Trump after his diagnosis was made public, but the call was delayed by the president’s visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
According to the readout, the two leaders also discussed efforts to keep citizens on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border safe.
The source said border restrictions between the two countries — which have been in place since March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus — did not come up in the conversation.
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Engagement on efforts to free Kovrig, Spavor: source
During the call, the prime minister also thanked Trump for his support “in seeking the immediate release” of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the PMO said.
Kovrig and Spavor were detained in China in December 2018, days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver. Meng was arrested at the request of U.S. authorities, who allege that she violated U.S. sanctions on doing business with Iran.
The source told CBC News that there has been engagement between Canada and the U.S. in recent weeks on the push to get the pair freed.
According to the source, Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., has raised the matter with the White House and has spoken to U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien.
The phone call comes as Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, was granted “virtual consular access” to Kovrig and Spavor — the first access the men have received since January.
Global Affairs Canada said Barton connected with Spavor on Friday and Kovrig on Saturday.
In August, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said that COVID-19 had complicated providing consular access to the men and suggested a virtual alternative.