Washington: A controversy-prone former mayor in America has landed himself in a soup again, this time for his remarks targeting "dirty" Asian businesses in his poor black-majority district, a racial slur that invited all-round criticism.

Washington Councilman Marion Barry spent Friday firmly defending, explaining and laborating upon his comments many feel was disparaging to Asians in his district.

Addressing his victory rally after being nominated by the Democrats for a third consecutive term in DC, Council, Barry on Wednesday said: "We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops."

He continued, "They ought to go. I just tell you that right now, you know. But we need African-American business people to be able to take their places, too."

76-year-old Barry apologized two days later after being hit by a barrage of criticism, and said he made a mistake by referring to a particular group.

He said he was actually trying to refer to vendors who do not hire locals or sell unhealthy food with high caloric value and the businesses that don’t contribute to the neighbourhood.

"I'm very sorry for offending the Asian American community... although my remarks were taken out of context by many about the conditions of some Ward 8 carryouts," he tweeted after the uproar.

"It is to these less than stellar Asian American businessmen in Ward 8 that my remarks were directed, not the whole of Asian businessmen in Ward 8 or, the Asian American population," he said.

While Asian organizations condemned the remarks, Mayor Vincent Gray said he is "deeply disappointed".

"There is no room in this wonderfully diverse city for comments that disparage anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation," he said.

Barry was in 1990 served six months in prison after being videotaped smoking crack cocaine.