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African UN envoys ask Trump to meet leaders after vulgar remark

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (C) looks on with US Africa commander, General Thomas D Waldhauser (2L) as she meets President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir (R) at The President Office in Juba, South Sudan on October 25, 2017. (AFP photo)

African UN envoys have suggested that US President Donald Trump meet with African leaders in Ethiopia this month after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Central America as coming from “sh*thole” countries.

African envoys met with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Thursday, telling her that “it could be useful” for Trump to address African leaders directly when they meet in Addis Ababa at the African Union.

That meeting is due to take place on January 28-29, according to the African Union website.

The African diplomats said that South African UN Ambassador Jerry Matjila spoke on behalf of the group.

Haley said she regretted the political drama around Trump’s reported vulgar remarks at a White House meeting on immigration, according to diplomats at the UN meeting.

Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “sh*thole countries” during a White House meeting last week, dismissing a congressional immigration proposal, according to those at the meeting.

During the meeting, Trump also allegedly expressed preference for accepting European immigrants from countries such as Norway.

The president has denied using that language, but others present insist he did.

Dozens of former US ambassadors to African countries have written to Trump expressing “deep concern” over his comments about the continent and warning that respectful engagement is crucial to protecting American interests.

The letter, signed by 78 former American envoys, urges Trump to have positive interactions with African countries.

The letter, dated Tuesday, asks Trump to “reassess” his views on the 54-nation continent, which it calls blessed with “almost unparalleled natural resources” and with which the US has deep historical ties.

On Thursday, several dozen Haitians protested outside the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince against the offensive comments.

"We are here today to let President Donald Trump know that we declare him persona non grata in Haiti," said protest leader Mario Joseph, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist in the Caribbean island nation.

Another demonstration was planned for next week.

Trump’s alleged remarks have sparked widespread criticism in the US and abroad. He was widely condemned by many African countries and by international rights organizations for the comments.

The Haitian government said it was shocked by the reported remarks, which came on the eve of the anniversary of the country's devastating January 2010 earthquake.

The Trump administration has said that about 60,000 Haitians who have been allowed to stay and work in the US since the earthquake must leave the country by July 2019.

Protesters across the United States staged anti-racism rallies on Monday in response to Trump’s vulgar phrase.

Many immigration advocates have criticized Trump as a demagogue who has unfairly portrayed non-European immigrants as criminals and inherently suspicious.

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