Former US presidents will attend Mandela's memorial service

Photo: Former US presidents will attend Mandela's memorial service / U.S.A.

Former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush will travel to South Africa next week to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, their spokesman confirmed Friday.

George W Bush and his wife Laura "graciously accepted" an invitation from US President Barack Obama to fly on Air Force One to the service, a spokesman for Bush told dpa. The service is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

Obama also invited Bush's father, former president George HW Bush, who was in office when Mandela was released from prison. But the 89-year-old will not be able to make the trip, his spokesman told dpa.

Clinton said on CNN that his whole family would be attending services, but he did not say whether they would fly with Obama and the Bushes on Air Force One.

The White House earlier announced Obama's travel plans.

"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," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

He did not say whether Obama would attend only the memorial service, the burial service on December 15 or both.

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

The other living former US president, Jimmy Carter, may also accompany Obama to South Africa, news reports said.

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