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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — NATO’s chief on Thursday called on China to treat two Canadian citizens detained in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese Huawei executive in Canada “fairly and with due process.”

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was following the situation of the Canadians detained in China in December “with concern,” in his first public comments about the case.

He called on Beijing to address the concerns of Canada, which wants the pair to be immediately released.

The Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who runs tours to North Korea, were detained Dec. 10.

Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder, at America’s request on Dec. 1. The U.S. alleges Meng lied to banks about trading with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The arrest has set off a political firestorm between China and Canada.

A Chinese court also sentenced a third Canadian to death in a sudden retrial of a drug case, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier.

Stoltenberg also said he also expects allies to sign an accession agreement for Macedonia after the country agreed to change its name amid a decades-old dispute with Greece.

He said that when Macedonia becomes a NATO member, the country would “contribute to peace and stability in the region and Europe as well.”

Last week, Greek lawmakers ratified an agreement that ended a nearly three decade-long dispute over neighboring Macedonia’s name. It will see the former Yugoslav republic renamed North Macedonia, and in return Greece is to drop its objections to the country joining NATO and eventually the European Union.

The agreement was strongly backed by western countries that want to limit Russian influence in the Balkans. But it angered nationalists and dismayed many in both Macedonia and Greece who believe it gave away too much to the other side.


This story has corrected the day of the NATO chief’s remarks to Thursday, not Friday.