WASHINGTON (AP) — At least three American presidents will travel to South Africa to attend memorial services for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
The White House says President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week to pay their respects. They will be joined on Air Force One by former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush. Former President George H.W. Bush was invited but is unable to attend. It’s unclear whether Jimmy Carter, the only other living American president, would travel to South Africa.
The White House says travel arrangements are still being made and it’s unclear when the Obamas and Bushes would depart. A memorial service for Mandela will be held Tuesday at a stadium in Johannesburg, followed by a smaller funeral on Dec. 15 in Mandela’s hometown.
Former President Bill Clinton says he also plans to travel to South Africa, along with his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It’s not clear whether the Clintons would also fly on Air Force One. Clinton told CNN it will be “the chance to say good-bye one last time.”
Meanwhile, the White House says the president spoke today with Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, and expressed condolences for the loss of her husband, both from his family and from the American people.