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U.S. President Donald Trump walks to the Oval Office of the White House upon his return in Washington from Pittsburgh, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - African U.N. envoys suggested on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump meet with African leaders in Ethiopia this month after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from "shithole" countries.

African ambassadors met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who told them she regretted the political drama around what was said a week ago at a White House meeting on immigration, according to diplomats at the U.N. meeting.

The diplomats said that South African U.N. Ambassador Jerry Matjila, who spoke on behalf of the group, told Haley that "it could be useful" for Trump to address African leaders directly when they meet in Addis Ababa at the African Union.

That meeting is due to take place on Jan. 28-29, according to the African Union website.

Haley told the ambassadors she did not know what had been said in last week's White House meeting and promised to convey the African ambassadors' message to Trump when she meets with him in Washington on Friday, according to the diplomats.

Trump has denied using such derogatory language.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the U.N. meeting beyond a tweet it posted, which read: "Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today. We discussed our long relationship and history of combating HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region."

African U.N. ambassadors issued a statement last Friday that said they were "extremely appalled at, and strongly condemned the outrageous, racist, xenophobic remarks attributed to the president of the United States."

They demanded Trump retract his remarks and apologise.

According to diplomats at the U.N. meeting on Thursday, Haley also spoke about the billions of dollars that the United States had invested in the fight against HIV/Aids and terrorism in Africa and in humanitarian aid for South Sudan.

Haley travelled to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in late October.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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