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Obama telephones Mandela, 20 years after prison release

US President Barack Obama telephoned Nelson Mandela on Friday to commemorate 20 years since the iconic South African leader was released from prison, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

world Updated: Feb 13, 2010 09:40 IST

US President Barack Obama telephoned Nelson Mandela on Friday to commemorate 20 years since the iconic South African leader was released from prison, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"Obama expressed the American people's great admiration for president Mandela, who was very appreciative of the call," Gibbs told reporters in Washington.

Thousands of South Africans Thursday celebrated the 20th anniversary of Mandela's release after spending 27 years behind bars. The historic moment paved the way for the dismantling of apartheid rule and South Africa's first democratic elections four years later.