As the world expresses their heartfelt prayers for the health of South African President Nelson Mandela, President Obama has met with the Mandela family privately to deliver his respects.
Reports indicate that President Obama will not be meeting personally with 94-year-old Mandela who is hospitalized with a lung infection. The White House said in a statement that this decision was made “out of deference to Nelson Mandela’s peace and comfort and the family’s wishes.”
Obama spent about a half hour with Mandela's relatives at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in South Africa, reports the New York Times. Obama also spoke to Mandela's wife, Graça Machel, via telephone.
“I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones,” Obama stated following his phone conversation with Machel, referring to Mr. Mandela by his clan name. “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.”
Mandela was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago for a chronic lung infection. He is currently in critical condition.