U.S. State Dept confirms paused diversity training, says committed to inclusion

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FILE PHOTO: People enter and leave State Department Building in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Sunday it has suspended employee training programs related to diversity and inclusion, confirming a Reuters exclusive a day before, but affirmed its commitment to fostering a more diverse workplace.

An internal State Department cable obtained by Reuters on Saturday showed the temporary pause came after President Donald Trump's executive order a month ago, directing federal agencies to end programs deemed 'divisive' by the White House.

The executive order forbid the teaching by federal agencies of "divisive concepts" including that the United States is "fundamentally racist or sexist."

"As an Executive Branch Agency, the Department of State complies with all Executive Orders," a State Department spokesman said in an email but said the agency is committed to ensuring a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

"Department leadership continues to encourage the workforce to engage in inclusive conversations and other efforts to promote diversity and inclusion consistent with the E.O.," he said, adding that the statutory trainings will not be affected.

The training suspension came less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, in which the debate about racial injustice in the United States has been fueled by police killings of Black Americans that sparked nationwide protests over the summer.

During the first debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden, Trump defended his executive order saying the training programs were teaching people "very bad ideas."

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Richard Chang)