US President Donald Trump, in an interview on Sunday, refused to state that the Confederate flag was an offensive symbol. He said that it for the people who adore the South, it was a source of immense pride.

Trump, who is a Republican, was questioned on Fox News Sunday, whether the Confederate flag, an accepted symbol of white supremacy and US slavery for scores of Americans, was offensive.

The president responded: "It depends on who you're talking about, when you're talking about," Trump responded. "When people proudly had their Confederate flags they're not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South. They like the South ... I say it's freedom of many things, but it's freedom of speech."

Sympathetic Towards Confederate Symbols

Trump has in the past appeared sympathetic to the flag and symbols of the Confederacy of the 1861-65 Civil War. In 2017, he criticized the removal of monuments to the Confederacy and said there were "very fine people on both sides" of a deadly clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump Twitter

Earlier this month, he criticized NASCAR's ban of the Confederate flag from its events. Breaking with several of his fellow Republicans in Congress, Trump has promised to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act over an amendment to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases within a year.

"We won World Wars out of these, out of these military bases, no I'm not gonna go changing. I'm not gonna go changing," Trump said in the interview, which was taped on Friday. He drew a parallel to the Black Lives Matter movement that was born out of police brutality targeting Black Americans. "I'm not offended either by Black Lives Matter. That's freedom of speech," Trump said.

Represents Something Un-American

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell, who last month endorsed Democrat Joe Biden in the November election, said on CBS' Face the Nation, the Confederate flag represents something that was never the United States of America.

"It was the Confederate States of America. They were not part of us and this is not the time to keep demonstrating who they were and what they were back then," said Powell, who is Black. "This is time to move on. Let's get going. We have one flag and only one flag only."

(With inputs from agencies)