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Trump denies vulgar remarks

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January 13, 2018

Donald Trump says he used "tough" language but didn't describe African nations as "shitholes".

Democratic US Senator Dick Durbin is condemning Donald Trump's use of vile language at a White House meeting on immigration, saying the president used "vulgar" language, and repeatedly called African nations "shitholes."

Durbin, speaking to reporters in video that aired on MSNBC on Friday, said he had been explaining a bipartisan group of senators' immigration plan on Thursday and how it impacted immigrants from various countries, including those in Africa.

"That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments calling the nations they come from 'shitholes' - the exact word used by the president, not just once but repeatedly," Durbin said at an event in Chicago.

Durbin's confirmation on Friday comes as Trump sought to walk back the comments saying, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used."

Trump had questioned why the United States would want to accept immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as "shithole countries".

Trump on Friday denied saying "anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country".

Amid the furore the president criticised an immigration proposal to protect 700,000 children who were brought to the United States as illegal immigrants and later given protection from deportation under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

"The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards," Trump said in a series of tweets on Friday.

The reported language was the latest in a long string of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments by Trump that have been condemned as racist.

The president's latest comments drew reactions from abroad on Friday.

In Geneva, the United Nations human rights office said the "racist" remarks would incite xenophobia.

Trump's comments are extremely offensive to South Africa, said Jessie Duarte, a senior official with the ruling African National Congress. "Ours is not a shithole country. Neither is Haiti or any other country in distress," she said.

At the White House meeting Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham briefed the president on the newly drafted, bipartisan immigration bill.

They were explaining how certain immigration programs operate, including one to give safe haven in the US to people from countries suffering from natural disasters or civil strife.

Trump said: "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway," according to one source briefed on the conversation.

"On behalf of Norway: Thanks, but no thanks," tweeted Torbjoern Saetre, a Norwegian politician on Friday.

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