Following a public protest by Botswana government, Washington moved swiftly and sent briefing notes to their envoys in Africa and Haiti on Friday to guide them on how to handle the fallout from President Donald Trump’s comments referring to Haiti and African countries as “s**thole countries.”
US assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein was quoted in the international media saying Trump denies that he uses such language, but said American envoys had been briefed on how to respond to complaints.
“We sent guidance to our folks and told them that we must reiterate that we have great respect for the people of Africa and all nations, and our commitment remains strong,” he said.
The diplomatic brief was dispatched hours after Botswana summoned the American Ambassador in Gaborone Earl R. Miller to complain about remarks reportedly made by President Trump describing African nations as “shithole countries”. The alleged comments, first reported by The Washington Post, were apparently made during a meeting at the White House about immigration reform on Thursday. They quickly sparked anger among Democrats and Republicans and revived questions about Trump’s tendency to make racially charged remarks.
“The Government of Botswana, on Friday summoned the US Ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the President of the US,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter.
This is the full statement released by the government of Botswana:
The Ministry of International Affairs & Cooperation wishes to inform the public and the international community that the government of Botswana today summoned the US ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the president of the USÔÇÜ Donald TrumpÔÇÜ when he referred to African countries and others as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House on Thursday 11 January 2018.
The Botswana government has also inquired from the US government through the ambassador to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a “shithole” countryÔÇÜ given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the USÔÇÜ and also that some Batswana may wish to visit the US.
The government of Botswana is wondering why President Trump must use this descriptor and derogatory word when talking about countries with whom the US has had cordial and mutually beneficial bilateral relations for so many years.
Botswana has accepted US citizens within her borders over the years and continues to host US guests and senior government officialsÔÇÜ including a congressional delegation that will come to Botswana at the end of this month; that is why we view the utterances by the current American president as highly irresponsibleÔÇÜ reprehensible and racist.
Botswana calls on the Southern African Development CommunityÔÇÜ the African Union and all other progressive nations across the world to strongly condemn the remarks made by President Trump.
This is the second time in two months that the Botswana government has publictly taken the American government to task over its remarks. In December, Botswana raised a storm following rhetoric from Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, which suggested that action would be taken against countries that voted against the US in the general assembly vote on the status of Jerusalem. “Botswana will not be intimidated by such threats and will exercise her sovereign right and vote based on her foreign relations principles,” the country’s government noted in a statement. “The threatening and grossly inappropriate communication, whose purpose would be to undermine the sovereignty of Botswana as an independent country, also demonstrates unprecedented diplomacy,” it added.