ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) — President Barack Obama, in the midst of a historic tour of Africa, says he isn’t certain about whether he’ll be able to visit gravely ill Nelson Mandela when he arrives in South Africa.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route from Dakar, Senegal to Johannesburg, Obama said, “We’ll see what the situation is when we land.”
Obama adds, quote, “I don’t need a photo op and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned with Nelson Mandela’s condition.”
He noted that his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha had previously met Mandela, who is 94. Mandela led the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
He was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria on June 8 with what authorities said at the time was a lingering lung infection.
“I think the main message we’ll want to deliver, if not directly to him, but to his family, is simply profound gratitude for his leadership all these years,” said Obama, “and that the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with him his family and his country.”