Trump says could intervene in Chinese exec's case

US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping could meet in June 2019 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan to talk trade, a top White House aide says (AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN, NICOLAS ASFOURI)

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump said in an interview Tuesday that he may intervene in the US case against a top Huawei executive detained and bailed by Canada if it helps seal a trade deal with China.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, is wanted by US authorities for violating Iran sanctions but Beijing has expressed outrage over her detention in Vancouver, ratcheting up tensions in the US-China trade dispute.

Asked by Reuters if he would intervene with the Justice Department in her case, Trump was quoted as saying: "Whatever's good for this country, I would do."

"If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made -- which is a very important thing, what's good for national security –- I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Trump said.

He added that White House officials had communicated with the Justice Department and Chinese officials about the Meng case but said he had not personally spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Questioned on domestic and international affairs, Trump also stood by Saudi Arabia's crown prince over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said he was not concerned that he would get impeached over scandals mounting at home.

But his comments on the Meng case are likely to garner the most attention as it has become a flashpoint in the already fragile trade relationship with the world's top two economies, locking them in a dispute that has begun to eat into profits.

- 'Very good ally' -

Beijing has expressed outrage over Meng's arrest at the request of Washington on December 1 and is holding a former Canadian diplomat in China, intensifying the row.

Meng was granted bail in Vancouver earlier, but the list of strict conditions of her release pending the outcome of the extradition case is lengthy, and includes electronic tagging.

Asked about Washington Post columnist Khashoggi's October 2 murder at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Trump refused to comment on the CIA's reported assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was likely complicit, and instead offered his unequivocal backing.

"He's the leader of Saudi Arabia. They've been a very good ally," Trump said, adding that standing by the kingdom meant backing Prince Mohammed.

His remarks came as pressure builds on the president over the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the 2016 election.

Trump told Reuters the American people "would revolt" if the Mueller probe -- or separate allegations by federal prosecutors that he ordered illegal hush money payments during the campaign to cover up affairs -- led to impeachment proceedings.

"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," the president said.