Washington, Jan 15 (PTI) “I am not a racist,” US President Donald Trump has said as he sought to steer clear of the controversy surrounding his reported derogatory remarks against immigrants from Haiti and Africa. Also Read - Kamala Harris' Niece Tweets Image Depicting Aunt as Goddess Durga, Hindu Groups Seek Apology

A row broke out last week over Trump’s alleged use of the word “shithole” to describe African nations. Also Read - US Election 2020 Latest Updates: Donald Trump, Joe Biden Mics to be Muted During Final Debate, President Objects

Trump reportedly used the word to describe African countries during an Oval Office meeting on Thursday with a bipartisan group of six senators on immigration reform. Also Read - US: 7.5 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Off Alaska Coast Triggering Tsunami Warning

People briefed on the conversation also say that during the meeting the president also questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the US.

“No No I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you,” Trump told reporters in Florida when entering Trump International Golf Course for a dinner with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?” he said. “They weren’t made.” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the lawmakers’ meeting, said that “shithole” was the “exact word used by the President, not just once but repeatedly”.

“He said these hate filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin said.

On Friday, the African Union expressed “dismay and outrage” at the reports and demanded that Trump apologise.

At least four Democratic lawmakers said that they were boycotting the State of the Union Address of the president to protest against his alleged remarks.

However, one of the Republican Senators who attended the meeting today claimed that Trump never used that word.

Trump has himself denied having used that word but has admitted using “tough” language in the meeting.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.