Obama-'Mandela is an inspiration to the world'

President Obama says South Africa's transition to a democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to him.

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are received by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane after landing at the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria on Friday evening, 28 June 2013. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

PRETORIA - US President Barack Obama has hailed Nelson Mandela's moral courage and says he is an inspiration to many around the world.

"South Africa's historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me and to the world."

Obama says the thoughts of all Americans are with Mandela's family during this difficult time.

Madiba was admitted to hospital more than three weeks ago for a recurring lung infection. He remains in a critical but stable condition on life support.

President Jacob Zuma and the US President held a briefing after bilateral talks at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday.

Obama and his family landed at the Waterkloof Air Force base on Friday night. It is his second stop on a three nation African tour.

Zuma says he is pleased to be working with Obama on strengthening trade relations between the two countries.

Earlier, the President officially welcomed Obama and his family to South Africa.

He says Obama is visiting Africa at the right time.

"Africa is rising. It is the second fastest growing region after Asia and has become an attractive market for investment."


It's still unclear when or where Obama will be meeting members of the Mandela family.

The White House earlier confirmed the President and his wife Michelle would hold a private meeting with Mandela's family.

They however won't be visiting Madiba in hospital.


Scores of people from all walks of life have been visiting the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where the ailing statesman is entering his twenty second day in hospital, to drop off messages of support.

One of the visitors was former Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities and the current SA Ambassador to Egypt Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya.

Mayende- Sibiya says she's only in the country for a short while but had to make time to wish the former President well.

"I thought I should use this opportunity whilst I am in the country to come and wish our father well. I hope he improves his condition and gets better. We love him very much."