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Obama hails Mandela's inspirational effect

Obama hails Mandela's inspirational effect
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Barack Obama has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela during his visit to South Africa.

Out of deference to the ailing anti-apartheid leader’s peace and comfort there will be no hospital visit, according to the White House. There will be a private meeting with members of the Mandela family, “to offer their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time,” the statement added.

After wide-ranging bilateral talks in Pretoria with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, the US president said the fate of the man he calls his “personal hero” was key in his thoughts.

“The struggle here, against apartheid, for freedom, Madiba’s moral courage, this country’s historic transition to a free and democratic nation, has been a personal inspiration to me, an inspiration to the world and continues to be,” said Obama.

During the weekend Obama is scheduled to visit Robben Island where Mandela passed 18 of the 27 years he spent in apartheid prisons.