United States presidentBarack Obama yesterdayleft Senegal for South Africa but ruled out the likelihood of meeting with ailing former South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Obama said he does not need a “photo-op” with MrMandela.
The American presidentwho is on a visit to three African countries paid tribute to 94-year-oldMandela who is clinging to life in a Pretoria hospital where he is being treated for recurring lung infection.
According to agency reports, Mr Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, said yesterday that his condition had improved in the past few days, although he remained “clinically ill”.
But the US president said the possibility of seeing Mr Mandela will be known when he arrives in Johannesburg. “I don’t need a photo op,” Mr Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving Senegal. “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.” White House has indicated any decision to visit Mandiba, as Mr Mandela is affectionately known, will be decided by MrMandela’s family. “When we get there, we’ll gauge the situation,” Mr Obama told reporters. Mr Obama, who is on his second visit to Africa, is however scheduled to visit Robben Island, where Mr. Mandela spent years in prison under South Africa’s former white minority regime. He will also deliver a speech at the University of Cape Town. White House officials said Mr Obama will hold a town hall meeting today with youth leaders in Soweto, the Johannesburg township known for 1976 student protests against apartheid,Reuters news agency reported. He will discuss a new exchange programme for African students with US colleges and universities. The event will include youth from Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya participating via video conference.