Michelle Obama: Mandela looked strong, good, happy

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 4:09 PM
Michelle Obama: Mandela looked strong, good, happy

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - First Lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday former South African President Nelson Mandela appeared strong and happy during a meeting with her and her family.

Obama, on a week-long trip to Africa, met the 92-year-old anti-apartheid icon at his home Tuesday.

Mandela has not been seen in public since he was hospitalized at the start of the year, suffering from a respiratory disease.

"He looked strong, he looked good, he looked...happy. And that was good to see," Obama told reporters traveling with her on her week-long visit to South Africa and Botswana.

White House officials had hoped Obama would be able to see Mandela during her trip, but the meeting was not confirmed until roughly an hour before it happened.

Mandela met President Barack Obama in Washington in 2005 when he was a senator.

Mandela visited his home village in May, the first time since he spent several days in the hospital in January. Since then he has received medical care at his home in Johannesburg's Houghton suburb.

Michelle Obama brought her daughters, Sasha and Malia, along with her mother and a niece and nephew for the visit, which included other members of Mandela's family.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Matthew Jones)