Obama: Mandela a personal inspiration

2013-06-29 12:45

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Former president Nelson Mandela had been a personal inspiration to him, said US president Barack Obama, adding that it was “great” to see what was happening in South Africa, when so many other regions were divided by conflict and disputes.

Obama and President Jacob Zuma held a joint briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria this afternoon after meeting earlier today.

Obama wished Mandela well as he lay critically ill in hospital. “Our thoughts... are with Nelson Mandela and his family, and all of South Africa,” Obama said in Pretoria.

“...Seeing people standing up for what’s right... I think continues to shine as a beacon of hope,” said Obama.

The outpouring of love for Mandela had shown what he meant to South Africans and the world, said Obama.

Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle and two daughters, touched down at the Waterkloof airforce base last night. They will not visit Mandela in hospital, but were due to meet with his family. Zuma said Obama was visiting Africa at the right time. “We are pleased to be working with you (Obama) today with a common goal of expanding trade and relations between our two countries.

“Mr President, you are visiting Africa at the right time...We would like to see you invest in the South African economy for mutual benefit.”

Youth development is a key focus area, he said.

Zuma continued to say: “We are of the view that lasting peace in the Middle East will not be possible without addressing the other problems in the region.”

“We are encouraged by the positive steps you (Obama) have taken to relax longstanding restrictions.”

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