South Africa, Ghana summon US diplomats after Trump remark

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In a meeting with a senators and House members on immigration, the President Trump, asked this: "Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?" Trump is seen here speaking at an immigration with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

A growing number of nations are summoning US diplomats in the wake of President Donald Trump’s “shithole” remark.

Top US diplomats in South Africa and Ghana were called on to meet with those governments, Undersecretary of State Steven Goldstein told CNN. Haiti, Botswana and Senegal have also summoned diplomats over the matter, and more diplomats are expected to be called this week, Goldstein said.

The calls add to the fallout over Trump’s comments last week in which he referred to African nations as “shithole countries” during an Oval Office discussion about immigration. On Friday, he denied using that language and specifically denied making derogatory comments about Haiti, and went so far as to flatly say over the weekend that he is “not a racist.”

Members of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation met with the US Embassy charge d’affaires on Monday to express concerns over Trump’s comments about immigration from certain nations.

According to the statement by the department, the delegation highlighted the African diaspora’s contribution to the United States, and noted that the international reaction to the comments serves as a “united affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa and the African diaspora.”

State Department officials said diplomats have been advised not to try to interpret or soften the President’s remarks. Rather, they are encouraged to listen and acknowledge the countries’ concerns. They were also instructed to emphasize areas of shared cooperation.

“The President has the right to make whatever remarks he wants and we respect the President,” Goldstein said. But diplomats have been instructed to “reaffirm that the US remains committed to its relationships with these countries and cares deeply about their people,” he added.

“They will have to work extra hard to send that message right now, but that’s part of their responsibility. It doesn’t change what they do,” Goldstein said.