Mandela death: Obama, Bush, Clinton to travel to South Africa

  • AP, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: Dec 07, 2013 08:06 IST
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    This picture shows a framed image of former South African president Nelson Mandela as people pay tributes following his death, in Johannesburg (AFP)

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    Tourists offer floral tributes near a sand sculpture of Nelson Mandela on a beach in Puri. (AP)

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    A subway rider reads a newspaper featuring news of the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela, in New York. (AP)

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    England cricketers observe a minute's silence to mark the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela on the second day of the second Ashes ...

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    A man holds up candles to a mural depicting former South African president and civil rights champion Nelson Mandela. (AFP)

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    US President Barack Obama pauses as he makes remarks on the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela at the age of 95, at ...

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    A woman holds a poster outside the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela after news of his death in Houghton. (AFP)

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    A selection of front pages from the British national newspapers on Nelson Mandela's death. (AP)

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    People react outside the home of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. (AFP)

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    An artist draws a miniature portrait of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela onto his thumbnail as he pays his homage in Siliguri. (AFP)

At least three American presidents will travel to South Africa to attend memorial services for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95.

The White House said Friday that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama would travel to South Africa next week to pay their respects. They will be joined on Air Force One by former president George W Bush and wife Laura Bush, who "gratefully accepted" the invitation from the Obamas, a Bush spokesman said.

The White House said travel arrangements were still being made and it was unclear when the Obamas and Bushes would depart. A memorial service for Mandela will be held Tuesday at a stadium in Johannesburg, followed by a smaller funeral on December 15 in Mandela's hometown.

Former president Bill Clinton said he also planned to travel to South Africa, along with his wife, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. It was unclear whether the Clintons would also fly on Air Force One.

"My whole family will be there," Clinton said in an interview with CNN. "And we're looking forward to having the chance to say good-bye one last time."

Mandela's death has sparked an outpouring of memorials and celebrations of the former prisoner turned president who led his country out of apartheid rule. In remarks following Mandela's death, Obama counted himself as one of the countless millions inspired by the South African leader.

"Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set," Obama said Thursday.

For Obama and Bush, the trip to South Africa will mark the second time they have been on the continent together this year. The two men were in Tanzania at the same time this summer, though on separately planned trips. They held a brief event together to honor victims of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam. Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush both also attended an African first ladies summit during the trip.

 

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