WASHINGTON (CNN) - A growing number of nations are summoning U.S. diplomats in the wake of President Donald Trump's "sh--hole" remark.
Top U.S. diplomats in South Africa and Ghana have been summoned to meet with those governments, Undersecretary of State Steven Goldstein said. Haiti, Botswana and Senegal have also summoned diplomats over the matter, and more diplomats are expected to be called this week, Goldstein said.
The summons add to the fallout over Trump's comments last week in which he referred to African nations as "sh--hole countries" during an Oval Office discussion about immigration. The president has denied using that language, and on Sunday said he was "not a racist" in response to the uproar over the remarks, which were widely reported and confirmed to CNN by a source briefed on the meeting.
State Department officials said diplomats have been advised not to try to interpret or soften the president's remarks. Rather, they are encouraged to listen and acknowledge the countries' concerns. They were also instructed to emphasize areas of shared cooperation.
"The President has the right to make whatever remarks he wants and we respect the President," Goldstein said. But diplomats have been instructed to "reaffirm that the U.S. remains committed to its relationships with these countries and cares deeply about their people," he added.
"They will have to work extra hard to send that message right now, but that's part of their responsibility. It doesn't change what they do," Goldstein said.
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