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Jan 15, 2:12 PM EST

South Africa summons US diplomat to explain Trump comment



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JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- South Africa summoned the United States' senior diplomat in Pretoria on Monday over President Donald Trump's recent disparaging comments about African nations and Haiti.

Trump has been accused of describing African nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting with U.S. senators last week. He has denied making the statements, as well as the ensuing accusations that he is racist.

South African foreign ministry officials met the U.S. chargé d'affaires and other U.S. Embassy officials in the capital to express South African concerns about Trump's reported comments, the ministry said in a statement.

"It was noted that Africa and the African diaspora has contributed significantly to the United States and to its development into the country that it is today, and that the African and international reaction to the alleged statements clearly serve as a united affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa and the African diaspora," the ministry said.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the U.S. Embassy to reiterate its "commitment to working with South Africa to achieve shared goals and strengthen our bilateral ties," embassy spokeswoman Cindy Harvey said in a statement. "We remain committed to working together to realize the promise of a more peaceful, more productive, more prosperous South Africa."

Trump's comments were met with widespread consternation in Africa, with an African Union spokeswoman saying the union was "frankly alarmed."

"Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice," AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. The governments of Namibia and Botswana have also condemned the comments.

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