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El Salvador slams 'deplorable' comment attributed to Trump

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San Salvador (AFP)

El Salvador on Friday slammed a comment attributed to US President Donald Trump reportedly calling it and other nations "shithole" countries and demanded an official US denial or clarification.

"In relation to the deplorable expressions attributed to President Donald Trump" El Salvador's government called for "an official declaration from the United States government to clarify them or deny them," the Central American nation's foreign ministry said in a statement.

President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said that the reported comments "assault the dignity of our people."

Leading US media, including the Washington Post and New York Times newspapers and CNN, quoted multiple sources saying Trump in a meeting with US lawmakers asked why the United States attracted immigrants from "shithole countries" rather than, for instance, wealthier and predominantly white Norway.

The reported slur was directed at unspecified African countries and Haiti, according to the Post and the Times. The Post said he also was referring to El Salvador.

The White House did not deny Trump made the "shithole" comment.

The US president on Friday tweeted that the language he used in the meeting was "tough" but said words attributed to him "was not the language used."

In another tweet he focused on Haiti to deny that he said "anything derogatory" about the Caribbean nation.

He made no specific mention of what was said about El Salvador.

In its statement, El Salvador's government expressed its "rejection" of the comments attributed to Trump.

It said it had sent a protest letter to the United States.

"El Salvador demands respect for the dignity of its noble and valiant people" in the name of diplomatic principles and in the context of historic relations with the US, the statement said.

Washington this week announced the end of a special protected status for around 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants in the United States, straining ties between the two countries.

The move threatens the affected Salvadorans with deportation when the current status runs out in 18 months' time, with the risk of breaking up well-established families and separating Salvadoran parents from their US-born children.

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