South Africa issued a diplomatic protest to the United States recently over President Donald Trump’s “shithole countries” comments, according to its foreign ministry.
South African diplomats also met with the US Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Monday to express their concerns. In a statement, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) didn’t specifically mention the vulgarity but said it was concerned about “statements that were allegedly made by President Donald Trump” concerning African nations. DIRCO noted South Africa’s contributions to the United States and said international reactions “clearly serve as a united affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa and the African diaspora.” The statement also noted that Monday was Martin Luther King Day in the United States.
The US Embassy and its top diplomat responded by saying, “there has been no change in the United States’ dedication to our partners across the Continent” and that “the United States deeply respects the people of Africa and … South Africa,” according to the DIRCO statement.
During an Oval Office meeting on immigration Thursday, Trump expressed frustration with people coming to the United States from countries in Africa and elsewhere, sources told CNN.
Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations in such vulgar terms, tweeting: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” He also defended himself Sunday night, telling reporters he is “not a racist.”
Prior to the meeting at the US Embassy in Pretoria, the South African Department of International Relations issued a statement, saying “The Department will provide an opportunity to the Charges de Affaires to explain the statement that African countries, alongside Haiti and El Salvador, constitute ‘shitholes’ from where migrants into the United States are undesirable.”
Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein told CNN that the top US diplomats in South Africa and Ghana had been summoned to meet with the governments on Monday. The governments of Haiti, Botswana and Senegal also summoned US diplomats in those countries in the past few days. The State Department is expecting more diplomats to be called in this week, Goldstein said.
The envoys have been instructed to emphasize areas of shared cooperation, which transcend any comments that may have been made by the President, officials said.