US Embassy must explain 'shithole' comment, says Dirco

2018-01-14 13:40
US president Donald Trump. (Don Emmert, AFP)

US president Donald Trump. (Don Emmert, AFP)

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Pretoria - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) on Sunday said it will approach the US Embassy to ask for an explanation on a recent statement by President Donald Trump in which he apparently termed African countries as being "shitholes".

"Dirco will on Monday demarche the Charges de Affaires (the second in charge) of the Embassy… following the recent disturbing comments attributed to President Donald Trump," said spokesman Clayson Monyela in a statement.

To demarche is to take a political step in diplomatic relations.

"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," said Monyela.

Trump allegedly made his controversial statement when he met US legislators who came to see him about a bipartisan – meaning it is supported by Democrats and Republicans – bill on immigration, which Trump rejected. He asked why the US had to accept immigrants from "shitholes" like Haiti and Africa. He said he would much rather prefer immigrants from Norway.

After controversy emerged over his apparent comments, Trump later tweeted that: "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," and in another social media post defended that he: "never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said "take them out"."

On Sunday Monyela said that the department noted the tweet in which he denied making the statements.

"The Department has noted further that President Trump's denial was not categorical, referring only to Haiti and not addressing the entirety of the statement attributed to him."

Monyela affirmed South Africa's alignment with other African countries, saying it supported the statements made about the comment by the African Union and the the Africa group of Ambassadors to the United Nations in New York.

"Africa is united in its affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa [and] the African diaspora," he said.

Previously, South African politicians also expressed their concern over Trump's remarks.

Read: South Africans react to 'shithole' remarks

Addressing the media ahead of the ANC's January 8 statement in East London, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte described Trump's comments as "unfortunate," while DA leader Mmusi Maimane described the comments as  "abhorrent".

Read: ANC, DA take dim view of Trump's 'shithole' comment

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