Obama to attend Mandela services

President Obama will attend services for Nelson Mandela in South African next week, the White House said Friday.

"President Obama and the First Lady will go to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela and to participate in memorial events," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

He did not say whether Obama would attended a large memorial service on Dec. 10 or a private burial service on Dec. 15.

"We'll have further updates on timing and logistics as they become available," Carney said.

The Dec. 15 funeral will cap a mourning period in South Africa, where Mandela waged a successful battle against the country's apartheid government became its first black president.

Obama has directed that American flags be lowered to half-staff through Monday in honor of the freedom fighter who died Thursday at age 95.

In a proclamation honoring Mandela, Obama wrote that "the United States has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity -- Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, he belongs to the ages."

Mandela "transformed South Africa -- and moved the entire world," Obama wrote. "His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better."

The resolution said: "While we mourn his loss, we will forever honor Nelson Mandela's memory. He left behind a South Africa that is free."


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