December 07, 2013, 09:20 am
Obama consoles Mandela's widow in call
By Rebecca Shabad
President Obama called Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, Friday afternoon to express his condolences.
Obama thanked Machel for “the profound influence that Nelson Mandela has had on him, and underscored the power of President Mandela’s example for the people of South Africa and the entire world,” according to the White House.
Obama also applauded the couple's commitment to a “peaceful, fair, and loving world.”
Mandela died late Thursday night in South Africa after suffering from poor health for a year. He was 95. After current President Jacob Zuma delivered the news, Obama spoke to him by phone to also express his condolences.
Shortly thereafter, Obama made a statement from the White House briefing room about Mandela’s effect on the world. He hailed Mandela as "a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
South Africa is organizing a number of memorial events in addition to his funeral, which will be held Dec. 15.
The president and First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to the country next week to "pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela and to participate in memorial events," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.
The White House did not confirm whether they would attend his funeral.
Former Presidents George W.Bush and Bill Clinton will also reportedly attend the events as well. ABC News reported Friday that George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, would accompany the Obamas on Air Force One.