Jan 12, 2018, 3:47 PM ET

Diplomats face challenge of reassuring allies they're not 's---hole countries'


After reports broke of President Donald Trump's disparaging comments about Haiti and other African countries, the outrage overseas was swift -- with governments demanding to know what the president really said and whether the U.S. would apologize.

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Already, two top American diplomats have been summoned by their host countries -- Earl Miller, the ambassador to Botswana, and Robin Diallo, the charge d'affaires to Haiti, the No. 2 in charge of the U.S. mission in the absence of an ambassador.

These diplomats and their colleagues elsewhere face a difficult challenge in defending the U.S.'s commitment to their host country without outright denying what the president said -- something even the White House has not done, though Trump did deny he used "derogatory" language about Haitians in a tweet this morning. He did not, however, deny accounts from multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion who told ABC News the president's comments extended to African countries as well.

So what is the State Department advising? According to internal guidance obtained by ABC News, the department is telling its diplomats to "reiterate that we have great respect for the people of Africa and all nations and our commitment remains strong."

"Each Charge or Ambassador should note what a great honor it is to be in their post and how much they value the relationship with the people of the nation they are representing (use nation’s name),” the guidance reads.

Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said as much to reporters, telling diplomats to listen first to the concerns of the host country’s government before emphasizing that the U.S’s commitment to the country hasn’t wavered.

“Will they have to work extra hard? Yes, but that’s OK -– it doesn’t change what we do,” said Goldstein. “Our diplomats are committed to the nations they are serving and care deeply about the people.”

He added: “The president has the right to say whatever he chooses. That’s the advantage of being president. But we have an obligation to the people of that country –- that hasn’t changed. Nothing has changed.”

If a country asks for confirmation –- did the president of the U.S. say what he is reported to have said –- then U.S. diplomats “will report that back to Washington and we’ll provide appropriate guidance should that occur,” Goldstein said, declining to elaborate further.

There was some speculation Friday that the comments had already led to one diplomat's resignation after news broke that the U.S. ambassador to Panama John Feeley had stepped down from his post.

But Feeley -- a senior Foreign Service officer, retired Marine helicopter pilot and “one of the Department's leading Latin America specialists,” according to the State Department -- submitted his resignation on Dec. 27. In his purported resignation letter, obtained by Reuters, Feeley pointed to Trump as his reason for leaving.

“As a junior Foreign Service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” Feeley said, according to the news agency.

Goldstein would not confirm the letter, saying only that Feeley left for “personal reasons,” but said if the letter is authentic, Feeley is entitled to his decision.

“Everyone has a line that they will not cross. If the ambassador feels that he can no longer serve ... then he has made the right decision for himself and we respect that,” Goldstein said.

News - Diplomats face challenge of reassuring allies they're not 's---hole countries'

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  • inonepeice

    Trump pours gasoline on it, leaves the diplomats to deal with the mess he made and goes golfing.

  • Karolyn Lapka

    trump makes things more difficult for his own diplomats. Why do they put up with his ineptness and his disrespect?

  • ruelph

    This is what happens when someone unfit and incompetent gets elected president.

  • Michael Stevens

    I can't believe the headline. What a media non event and non reality. Every political leader thinks others are jerks. Get real journalists.

  • Baltoga

    Why should we give preference to countries that are inept, corrupt and violate human rights?

  • Truth-B-Me

    The entire administration should resign if they had any guts and leave the fake president to fend for himself! Of course they won't do this and will just keep enabling and supporting the biggest embarrassment that America has ever seen!

  • Jrducky

    I wonder where a person could locate a list of people from the countries that Trump mentioned, to pen pal with and assure them that we are not all hateful, ugly, derogatory people as the fake president would like them to believe.
    Anyone have a suggestion for such a resource?

  • mtntrek3

    Yes, Trump is hopefully to be back in his tower in 2020. My hope indeed. Yet waay off topic and on a lighthearted note. Which of the three comedic teams (Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges) films are your favorites? For me, "Two Tars", "Horsefeathers" and "Disorder in the Court" respectfully. : ) Lol. Ahh, trying to interject some levity. Take care and love you guys. : ) Chris.

  • Ron

    If there was a golf course in those countries that Trump liked, or if any Trump properties were located in those countries, he would be saying what wonderful potential they have. While doing so with a tweet from whatever Trump golf course he is currently at. Since he spends a hell of a lot more time on the golf course, drumming up business for himself, then he does at WH.

  • P-dizzle

    Just because you say America First does not mean our President acts that way. Denigrating allies is not my idea of making America great.

  • I just dont like orange

    You know why Africans do and Norwegians dont want to come to the United States? Norwegians dont want to change their First World country for a Second World.

  • Ronald Bandor

    This toolbag claims to be a great negotiator, too. And his apologists think it's true!

  • 40K ft AGL View

    Hillary and Bill looted Haiti using their fake foundation after their earthquake, but liberals and MSM are not offended except for it being called the $hithole that it is.

  • Mikhail

    Well, that s***hole Africa has lots of Uranium!

  • P Miller

    I've lost all my faith in the presumed value of education. Because after a full year of intense education on what Trump is, a full 1/3 of adult Americans remain utterly clueless.