News Column

Obama Praises Mandela During South African Visit

June 29, 2013
Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday praised ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela for standing up for what's right.

Mandela was a main topic of talks between Obama and current South African President Jacob Zuma.

"Our thoughts, and those of Americans, and people all around the world are with Nelson Mandela and his family," Obama said at a news conference.

"The triumph of Mandela speaks to something deep in human spirit; a yearning for justice and dignity which transcends ... bounds of race."

Zuma linked Mandela and Obama "as the first black presidents of your respective countries, thus you both carry the dreams of millions of people in Africa and in the disapora who were previously oppressed," The New York Times reported.

The Times said the White House had planned to show Mandela and Obama meeting as a symbol of two generations of black leaders. But Mandela, 94, has been hospitalized for three weeks with a lung infection and is reported to be in poor condition.

Obama met with members of Mandala's family.

Obama was expected to talk about Mandela Sunday when the U.S. president visits Robben Island, site of the prison where Mandela was held for 18 years.

Obama and his family arrived in South Africa Friday from Senegal as part of an African trip. He talked with Senegalese farmers and businessmen about technologies to improve farming conditions in the region.

The Obamas were to wrap up the trip with a two-day stop beginning Monday in Tanzania.




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