French President Emmanuel Macron says he shares the outrage over President Donald Trump’s disparaging comment about Africa, arguing that such language hurts efforts to bring peace and development to the continent.
Macron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr program in an interview broadcast Sunday that the words attributed to Trump — “shithole countries” — were inappropriate. His expression of solidarity came after Marr asked the French president whether he shared the outrage of African nations that were offended by the comment.
“For sure,” Macron said. “It’s not a word you can use. And if we want, precisely, to build peace, development in these countries and a respectful relationship,” you can’t use those words “by definition.”
“And I think a lot of our issues in both the Middle East and Africa are due to a lot of frustrations, due to a lot of past humiliations and we have to understand that.” Macron continued. “And I do believe we have to respect all the countries. That’s what we owe them, and that’s much more efficient.”
Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries” during a White House meeting on immigration this month, according to several participants. The president denied saying those words, though he acknowledged using tough language.
In the BBC interview, Macron went on to say that he has a “very strong” relationship with Trump, noting that the billionaire U.S. leader isn’t a “classical politician.” He said he disagrees with Trump on some issues, but wants to work with Washington.
For example, the two countries must work together to force North Korea to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear arms program, Macron said. He was less conciliatory on the Paris climate change treaty, saying the more than 180 countries that agreed to the deal will not renegotiate it to satisfy the U.S.
“I call him very regularly,” Macron said of Trump. “I’m always extremely direct and frank, as he is. Sometimes I manage to convince him, sometimes I fail.”