US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants immigrants to come to the United States "from everywhere," according to participants at a White House meeting -- a remark in stark contrast with his alleged denunciation of immigration from "shithole countries" last week.
"We want them to come in from everywhere," the president said when asked about immigration policy during an Oval Office meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
But the controversy over Trump's reported slur on January 11 raged on in Washington, as Republicans and Democrats attempt to reach a compromise on the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
Brought to the US illegally as children and granted temporary status under former president Barack Obama, Trump ended the program for so-called "Dreamers" in September.
Since the controversy erupted, Trump has not explicitly denied referring to African countries and Haiti as "shitholes," but has said, without offering details, that he did not use the language attributed to him.
On Twitter, Trump hit out at Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, who was present at last week's meeting and insisted the president used the slur repeatedly.
"Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can't get made when there is no trust!" he wrote Monday evening.
"We need a merit based system of immigration, and we need it now!" he added Tuesday.