Obama, Bush, Clinton going to South Africa next week for Mandela memorial

Fri Dec 6, 2013 5:49pm EST
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By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and his two immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will all travel to South Africa to attend memorial events for Nelson Mandela, the former South African leader who died on Thursday.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be joined on Air Force One by Bush and his wife, Laura, on the trip to South Africa next week.

Clinton, the Democrat who preceded the Republican Bush in office, will be attending Mandela events in South Africa as well, a spokesman said. His exact travel plans were still being worked out.

It is a sign of Mandela's importance as a world leader that the United States will be represented in South Africa by three American presidents.

There has been an outpouring of tributes from Americans to the 95-year-old Mandela, whose battle against white minority rule in South Africa was followed closely in the United States and helped fuel Obama's interest in politics.

The exact schedules of Obama, Bush and Clinton were as yet unclear and it was not known whether Obama would make public remarks in South Africa.

"President Obama and the first lady will go to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela and to participate in memorial events. We'll have further updates on timing and logistics as they become available," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said Bush and his wife would travel with the Obamas.   Continued...