The leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, has apologised for suggesting to a new Asian councillor that she would be better off in Oldham or Burnley.
Coun Whitby (pictured) told Respect Party councillor Salma Yaqoob (pictured) he was sorry if she had been offended by his remarks.
However, the council leader was careful to distance himself from any blame for the incident, adding that his remarks had been misinterpreted by other people.
The partial climbdown came a week after Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) clashed with Coun Yaqoob at a council meeting.
He told her to go to Burnley or Oldham, the scene of race riots in 2001, after she criticised the absence of black and ethnic minority faces in the council cabinet or among scrutiny committee chairmen.
In a letter to Coun Yaqoob, the council leader said: "On a personal basis, I am sorry if you have been offended by my remarks, which was never my intention.
"It is sad if people have interpreted what I said in a way which was not meant.
"We celebrate our cultural diversity in Birmingham and as leader of the city I constantly do all I can to promote it."
Coun Whitby also used the letter to repeat his criticism of Coun Yaqoob, accusing her of using "divisive political tactics".
He said: "You must be aware that the council you are now a member of has been rightly commended for the way it handles relations with all of its diverse communities.
"I feel aggrieved that this good work was put at risk by your attack on the composition of the cabinet and scrutiny portfolio holders.
"Such divisive political tactics do not have a place here, especially when we are working so hard to bring people together."
Coun Whitby's latest attempt to broaden the ethnic appeal of the council leadership triggered fresh complaints yesterday.
Labour lodged an official complaint after it was confirmed Coun Whitby intended to sack Afro-Caribbean councillor Yvonne Mosquito as the council's representative on the West Midlands Police Authority.
She will be replaced by Liberal Democrat councillor Ayoub Khan.
Sir Albert Bore claimed last night that Coun Whitby did not have the power to make the change.
Sir Albert saiid: "Even if Mike Whitby had the power to do this, it would be particularly inept to get rid of the only Afro-Caribbean woman on the police authority."