Trump asks State to look at ‘large scale killings of farmers,’ prompting furious South Africa response

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE said early Thursday that he's asked Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoDemocratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment MORE to look into "land farm seizures" and the "large scale killing of farmers" in South Africa after Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired a segment on the topic.

The tweet appeared to both reference and be triggered by a segment on Carlson's show titled "Inside South Africa's racist land seizures.

Trump referenced violence against white farmers in his tweet, but media reports suggest the number of killings of white farmers actually hit a 20-year low in 2017–2018.

He quoted Carlson as saying the country is "now seizing land from white farmers." The Fox News host was critical of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The South African government later issued a series of tweets pushing back against Trump's comments, suggesting he was trying to stoke divisions in a country that continues to deal with the aftermath of apartheid.

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"South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past," the government tweeted.

"South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation," the government added in a subsequent tweet.

Both tweets tagged Trump.

The South African government implemented a policy at the end of apartheid in 1994 that allows the government to buy white-owned farms for redistribution to black citizens when the seller is willing to cooperate.

Last month, the government said it would go forward with a plan to amend the constitution to allow land to be taken without compensation. Whites in South Africa hold about 72 percent of the land, but make up about 9 percent of the population.

Reuters reported that 47 white farmers were killed in 2017 and 2018, but that such killings are at a 20-year low.

Carlson's segment and Trump's tweet coincided with the Agri-SA Land Summit in Limpopo, South Africa, where the country's leaders addressed farmers about the land expropriation policy.

"We must be bold in responding to the reality of our economic situation and not be afraid to implement those policies that would bring better economic opportunities for all South Africans," Deputy President David Mabuza said.

Trump previously stirred controversy with comments about Africa when he referred to African nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting about immigration. A number of lawmakers, including some Republicans, called the president's comments racist at the time.

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpNASCAR postpones Daytona 500 due to rain after Trump visit Trump greeted with applause, cheers from NASCAR fans upon arrival at Daytona 500 NASCAR star Hailie Deegan poses with Trump at Daytona 500 MORE is expected to travel without the president to Africa this fall. It's not yet clear which countries she will visit.