WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump urged Americans of all backgrounds to unite on Monday after his response to racially-fraught protests drew widespread criticism.
"Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts there's no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate," he said.
"The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home."
His comments, made during an address to the nation on his Afghan strategy, came with America still reeling less than two weeks after bloodshed at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump faced fierce blowback - including from his own Republican party - after he said "both sides" were to blame for the clashes, which saw one woman die after an avowed white supremacist plowed his car into a group of anti-racism counter-protestors there.
He again made ambiguous remarks on the deadly violence when he said the white nationalist rally included "very fine people, on both sides."
Trump's comments set off a political firestorm, triggering widespread rebuke from lawmakers and prompting senior business executives to quit his economic advisory councils.