President Obama will not meet with the ailing Nelson Mandela during his visit to South African, according to a White House official, who spoke earlier today.
“The President and First Lady will meet privately with members of the Mandela family to offer their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time,” the official said. “Out of deference to Nelson Mandela’s peace and comfort and the family’s wishes, they will not be visiting the hospital.”
After the meeting with the family, which occurred at about 9:00 am ET, Obama issued the following statement:
Today I had the privilege of meeting with members of the Mandela family at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, and spoke by telephone with Mrs. Graça Machel, who remained by her husband’s side in the hospital in Pretoria. I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones, and also expressed my heartfelt support for the entire family as they work through this difficult time.
I also reaffirmed the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world – including me. That’s a legacy that we must all honor in our own lives, including this July on Mandela Day.
Madiba and his family remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Obama is in Pretoria and Johannesburg today. Earlier, he met with South African President Jacob Zuma. Later today he will participate in a Young African Leaders Initiative Town hall at the University of Johannesburg – Soweto.
He’ll also meet with African Union Chairwoman Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and in the evening attend an official dinner with President Zuma. Obama will remain overnight in Johannesburg.