State Dept: Relations with African countries 'deeper than any one alleged comment'

State Dept: Relations with African countries 'deeper than any one alleged comment'
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State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday that the United States' relationships with African countries were strong enough to stand up to reports that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE referred to African nations and others as "shithole countries."

Nauert emphasized at a department press briefing that Trump had denied reports that he used such language and that the allegations were unlikely to affect U.S. foreign relations, particularly in Africa.

"Our relationships are deeper than any one alleged comment," she said. "This president has been clear that he did not make this remark. You had others in the room who have said he did not make this remark."

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After reports of the comment surfaced last week, U.S. diplomats were summoned to meet with African governments in Senegal, Botswana and elsewhere to explain the remark, and the African Union issued a statement demanding an apology. 

Likewise, a group of African ambassadors to the United Nations condemned the reported comment and demanded a retraction and an apology. 

According to reports, Trump decried immigration from "shithole countries," like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, questioning why the U.S. should admit people from such countries over immigrants from countries like Norway.

South Africa on Monday issued a formal diplomatic protest to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, noting that Trump's denial of the reports "was not categorical, referring only to Haiti and not addressing the entirety of the statement attributed to him."