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SA to summon US embassy official over Trump’s vulgar comment on Haiti‚ African countries

14 January 2018 - 14:39 By Ernest Mabuza
President Donald Trump. File photo.
President Donald Trump. File photo.
Image: AFP

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation will on Monday summon the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America in Pretoria‚ Jessye Lapenn‚ following the recent disturbing comments attributed to US President Donald Trump.

The department said it would provide Lapenn with an opportunity on Monday to explain the statement made by Trump last week that African countries‚ alongside Haiti and El Savador‚ constituted "sh**holes" from where migrants into the United States were undesirable.

The department described the action it intended to take as a demarche.

Diplomatic demarches are used by governments to gather information from a foreign government. Governments may also use a demarche to protest or object to actions by a foreign government.

The department said it had noted Trump's tweet on Friday in which he denies making the crude and offensive statement.

The department said it had also noted that Trump's denial was not categorical‚ referring only to Haiti and not addressing the entirety of the statement attributed to him.

“South Africa aligns itself with the statements issued by the African Union and 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‚” the department said in a statement.

It said 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.

On Friday‚ the government of Botswana announced it had summoned the US ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by Trump.

“The Botswana government has also enquired from the US Government‚ through the Ambassador‚ to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a “sh**hole” country given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the US‚ and also that some Batswanas may wish to visit the US‚” Botswana’s ministry of international affairs and cooperation said in a statement.