Canada foreign minister says former envoy's Huawei comments made job untenable

John McCallum, Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, at a press conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 30, 2016. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING/OTTAWA (REUTERS) - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday (Jan 28) that former ambassador to China John McCallum's comments on a Huawei Technologies executive's high-profile extradition case had made it untenable for him to stay in the job.

McCallum had not accurately conveyed the government's thinking on the situation, Freeland told reporters in Ottawa. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday he had fired McCallum.

McCallum embarrassed Trudeau's Liberal government by saying last week that Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou could make a strong argument against being sent to the United States. McCallum later said he "misspoke".

Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec 1 over alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran. Her arrest enraged China, which has called for the extradition case to be dropped.

China's foreign ministry said earlier on Monday that Trudeau's dismissal of the ambassador was an internal Canadian affair and China would not comment.

At a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated China's call for Canada to "make the correct choice" and release Meng so she could return to China. She was granted bail 10 days after her arrest.

The United States has until Wednesday to formally request her extradition over the alleged Iran sanctions violations.

US Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will make an enforcement announcement relating to China at 4.30 pm EST (5.30am Singapore time) on Monday, an official told Reuters.

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