Obama visit up to Mandela family - US

2013-06-22 18:00

Washington - President Barack Obama will defer to Nelson Mandela's family on whether he will visit the ailing anti-apartheid icon during his trip to South Africa, a top aide says.

The possibility of a meeting between the first black presidents of both South Africa and the United States has been hotly anticipated for years.

But the declining health of Mandela, 94, who has been fighting a lung infection, and Obama's failure to visit South Africa until his second term, have left the prospect in doubt.

"We ... are going to be very deferential to the Mandela family in terms of any interaction the president may have with the Mandela family or Nelson Mandela," said Ben Rhodes, a deputy US national security advisor.

"Ultimately, we want whatever is in the best interests of his health and the peace of mind of the Mandela family," said Rhodes.

"We will be in touch with them. If he has an opportunity to see the family in some capacity, that's certainly something that we may do."

Previous meeting

Mandela remains in a Pretoria hospital, where he has been in a serious condition with a lung infection.

Former president Thabo Mbeki said Mandela's health is improving, and that he is not going to "die tomorrow" despite a growing acceptance in his nation of his mortality.

Obama will stay overnight in Johannesburg and Cape Town during his trip, and plans to visit Robben Island, where Mandela was once imprisoned.

Rhodes said that Obama's visit to the island, where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison, would be an "important and powerful symbol" of the president's respect for Mandela, one of his personal heroes.

Obama met Mandela soon after he was elected a senator in 2005, when the former South African president was in Washington.

The two have spoken several times since on the telephone.

Obama's wife, Michelle, was able to pay a visit to the anti-apartheid icon during her trip to Africa two years ago, and she said it was the most moving moment of her visit.

  • Musawashe Moyo - 2013-06-22 18:18

    So are they gonna arrest him in that hospital since he will be boxed in

      Israel - 2013-06-22 18:34

      Honestly Musawashe where do you get this crap!! - you uneducated moron

      Musawashe Moyo - 2013-06-22 18:55

      Truly u do not deserve to hide behind a nick of Israel (Jacob) who was a man of integrity n honour. Since u are educated you would know who Obama is, both in office n out of office.

      Jorgylyn Companiados - 2013-06-22 19:05

      South Africans know how to dance and party like there is no tomorrow...we are not stuck ups like the americans....enuf said

      Payricia Bull - 2013-06-22 20:02

      Hey Moyo ! ..... U lost your Mojo ? ....... Or you just a Yoyo ????????????? ????????????? ???????????????? ?????????????? ??????????????? ??????????????? ?????????????? ???????????? ???????????? Please reply !

      Musawashe Moyo - 2013-06-22 20:58

      I won't reply to ur Bull

      Kortbroek Du Plessis - 2013-06-23 09:00

      Musawashe they can try, but they will have the Secret Service breathing on their necks! Easier said than done....

  • Payricia Bull - 2013-06-22 19:49

    Madiba survived a traumatic photo opportunity by Zuma under great duress ..... After that there can be no doubt that he would welcome someone of a higher intellectual capacity with more sensitivity than a gangster defending his banana republic human rights record of 19 years

  • Payricia Bull - 2013-06-22 20:18

    Dear President Obama, I suspect that if you condescend to visit Zumas ill-gotten Nkandla palace, you will, in effect, be delivering an almighty slap in the face to the majority of SA citizens who so vehemently oppose his corrupt and dictatorial ways! ........ Please return in 2014 to a SA ruled by the people for the people (providing that the IEC has not also been corrupted)

  • Erna Westdyk - 2013-06-22 22:48

    Hope the anc notices that they defer to the family not the party.

  • Lolo Mogale - 2013-06-23 00:11

    I don't think president barrack obama really honor the first anti apartheit first black south african president mandela dat way he should have been here in mzansi in his first term as pres of america now he just cum bcos de old men can't even c dat is him he just feel ashamed dat if de old men can die bfor I visited him it wil looks sum how to south africans nd african countrys obama is a disgreace I don't recomend him he should have bn here on his 1st term not now cause de old men can even share with him anything related dis country including what the moster jacob is doing to dis country with his gupta family nd nkandla city how can u make a rural area a city sorrounded by ghettos of poor ppl so obama is cuming just for fun let him just cum

  • Philip Condor - 2013-06-23 08:16

    A spokeman from the group clearly stated in Office "Nobody decides who where and when obama visits, his own security which is cream of the crop will decide for him, then the choice is up to him."Before he arrive at any place his security personel have already been there and nobody even knows that. in south africa they are extra cautious.Wonder why?

  • Jannie Visagie - 2013-06-23 08:34

    This must be a historic moment in history for Obama to meet the most incompetent and uneducated president in history.

  • Louis Ferreira - 2013-06-23 10:34

    I will not be surprised if Madiba has died already but the ANC is keeping Madiba "allive" until after the next election.???? Anything is possible in RSA

  • GEvans - 2013-06-24 00:10

    Those two faced Americans can all go to hell! Not the Clintons, not the Bush and certainly not the Obama are even worth the shoes that Madiba walked in. They are all fake, war mongering, liars and cheats!

  • Chamber Vibrator - 2013-06-24 19:37

    This man must be stoned to death.

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