David Jackson, USA Today
President Obama will travel to South Africa next week to attend services for Nelson Mandela, the White House said Friday.
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," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
He did not say whether Obama would attend a large memorial service on Dec. 10 or a private burial service on Dec. 15, or both.
"We'll have further updates on timing and logistics as they become available," Carney said.
least two former presidents -- George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- will
also fly to South Africa next week for Mandela memorials.
W. Bush's office confirmed that he will be flying to South Africa aboard
Air Force One with Obama. Obama also invited Bush's father, former
President George H.W. Bush, but the 89-year-old Bush will not be able to
make such a long trip, his office said.
Clinton told CNN that he
and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will also be
traveling to South Africa.The other living ex-president -- Jimmy Carter
-- may accompany Obama as well.
Details of the trip, including the dates, were still being worked out as of Friday night.
services are included in a 10-day mourning period in South Africa,
where Mandela waged a successful battle against the country's apartheid
government and became its first black president.
directed that American flags be lowered to half-staff through Monday in
honor of the freedom fighter who died Thursday at age 95.
brief eulogy on Thursday, Obama -- the first African-American president
in U.S. history -- said that "I am one of the countless millions who
drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life."
Obama issued a
written proclamation saying that "the United States has lost a close
friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world
has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity --
Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, he belongs to the ages."
"transformed South Africa -- and moved the entire world," Obama wrote.
"His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that
human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better."
resolution said: "While we mourn his loss, we will forever honor Nelson
Mandela's memory. He left behind a South Africa that is free."
Clinton, who enjoyed a close relationship with Mandela, recalled on CNN
meeting the South African leader for the first time at the 1992
Democratic National Convention in New York City. Hillary Clinton
attended Mandela's inauguration as South Africa's president in 1994.
former president said that Mandela taught him that "if you're in public
life and you have public responsibilities, you cannot be free and
effective unless you have no personal feelings of anger."
said Mandela was "a genuine friend to me and he was a really fine
partner as president. So my whole family will be there (in South
Africa). And we're looking forward to having the chance to say good-bye
once last time."