Air Force One - US President Barack Obama is to give a
speech at Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela, an official travelling
with Obama said.
Obama, his wife Michelle, former president George Bush
and his wife Laura, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton left
Washington for South Africa aboard Air Force One early on Monday.
"We do expect President Obama to speak as part of
the programme" at the FNB stadium in Soweto, deputy US national security
advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters travelling with the president.
Rhodes added that Obama had worked on his speech over the
About 80 000 people are expected to gather at the stadium
on Tuesday for an emotional tribute to Mandela, who died last week at age 95.
Obama also "would certainly like to have the
opportunity... to pay his respects" to Mandela's widow Graça Machel and
the rest of his family, Rhodes said.
The US president does not expect to have any bilateral
meetings with other world leaders while in South Africa, he added.
Rhodes said the Obamas, the Bushes and Clinton had been
talking in Air Force One's conference room during the flight, calling it a
Former US presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were
making their own way to South Africa for Tuesday's memorial.
In Washington on Monday, US Vice President Joe Biden paid
his respects to Mandela at the South African embassy.
"Mandela's head and heart lifted a nation to
freedom. We will continue to keep his spirit alive and strive to live by his
example," Biden wrote in the book of condolences.
- Friends, colleagues,
comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and
tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.
- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.