US ambassador Nikki Haley has told African envoys that “Africa is very important for the United States,” but she did not apologise for President Donald Trump’s vulgar comment about the continent as they had demanded, the chair of the African Group said.
Equatorial Guinea’s UN ambassador, Anatolio Ndong Mba, told two reporters after the closed meeting that “we do hope that that (apology) will come,” perhaps from Mr Trump to African leaders at their summit in Ethiopia on January 28-29.
Mr Ndong Mba said the 54-nation African Group at the United Nations gave Haley a “specific recommendation” but he refused to disclose it.
Mr Trump is reported to have referred to African nations as “shithole countries” last week in dismissing a bipartisan immigration proposal, several participants at the meeting said.
However, the president denied using that language.
The African Group issued a statement last Friday condemning Mr Trump’s “outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks” and demanding a retraction and apology.
Mr Ndong Mba said Ms Haley told the ambassadors she was not at the meeting and was not sure what Trump said, but noted that “the president always has been talking very high of Africa”.
“But she regretted all this situation that has been created,” Mr Ndong Mba said. “She said she regretted that a lot.”
He called the meeting “very friendly” and “very frank.”
“We appreciate the fact that she came, and she talked about all the cooperation between the United States and Africa, and that Africa is very important for the United States,” Mr Ndong Mba said.
Ms Haley didn’t mention anything about Mr Trump’s reported remarks in a tweet about her visit.
“Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today,” she said. “We discussed our long relationship and history of combating HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region.”
The African Union, the 55-member continental body, and a number of African nations have expressed shock and condemnation over Mr Trump’s alleged remark.
Concern about the Trump administration was growing across Africa, the world’s second most populous continent, even before the president’s comment, over proposed deep cuts to US foreign aid and a shift in focus in Africa toward countering extremism.