WASHINGTON, D.C. - South Africa is the latest country to call in an American diplomat to explain U.S. President Donald Trump’s reported vulgar remarks about African, Haitian and El Salvadoran immigrants to the United States.
Trump stunned lawmakers in a recent White House meeting on immigration when, according to multiple reports, he asked, “Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?”
Trump reportedly said the U.S. should allow in more people from places such as Norway. Norway's population is predominantly white. The populations of the African countries and Haiti are mostly black, while the population of El Salvador is mostly brown.
Statements from international and domestic organizations are expressing concern that the U.S. and its president are going down a racist path. Trump has denied he is a racist and insists he didn't make the remarks.
South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was scheduled to talk Monday with the second in command at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria about Trump's statement.
DIRCO said in a statement: “The department will provide an opportunity to the (U.S.) charges de affaires to explain the statement that African countries, alongside Haiti and El Savador, constitute “s---holes” from where migrants into the United States are undesirable.”
The South African statement added: “Relations between South Africa and the United States, and between the rest of Africa and the United States, must be based on mutual respect and understanding.”
South Africa is a close ally of the United States and the third-largest economy in Africa.
The U.S. envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Stuart Symington, was summoned by the Nigerian government on Monday to explain the Trump's remarks.
Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama confirmed the summons telling Reuters he "sought clarification on the veracity or otherwise of the substance of the remarks, stressing that if they were true, they were deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable."
Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo has also summoned the U.S. ambassador to Accra, Robert Porter Jackson, to protest the alleged remarks. Akufo-Addo tweeted:
“The language of @realDonaldTrump that the African continent, Haiti and El Salvador are “s---hole countries” is extremely unfortunate. We are certainly not a “s---hole country.” We will not accept such insults, even from a leader of a friendly country, no matter how powerful.”
The State Department says American diplomats in Haiti and Botswana have also been summoned to discuss Trump's remarks.
On the U.S. holiday recognizing late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the ambassador of the African Union in Washington, D.C., Arikana Chihombori Quao, asked VOA to allow her to quote King, who said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
In a statement, the AU Mission demanded a retraction from the president and an apology “not only to the Africans but to all people of African descent around the globe.”
A meeting of African ambassadors is planned for this week in Washington to discuss a response.
John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “What concerns me is that American influence in Africa has taken a quite serious hit,” said John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Campbell described the reaction in African capitals, not only to the alleged remarks but to Trump’s “America First” policy, as “fierce.”
The African ambassadors to the United Nations said its group “is extremely appalled at and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks attributed to the president of the United States.”
The U.S. Congressional Black Caucus said “President Trump’s comments are yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views. It also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the president’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ is really code for ‘Make America White Again.’”