Nelson Mandela: South Africa's president Jacob Zuma says Barack Obama will still meet 'Madiba'
Meanwhile, South African officials have confirmed that
South Africa's president has said Barack Obama will still meet Nelson Mandela, despite the national hero's failing health.
The US President is due to meet his fellow Nobel peace laureate during a short tour of Africa, but the 94-year-old is critical in hospital with a lung infection.
Mr Zuma said: "Madiba (Mandela's clan name) has been unwell for quite a while. There's nothing that's going to stop the visit because Mandela is sick. If you stopped that visit, people would ask questions. Obama is coming whilst Madiba is in hospital not well."
Jack Hillmeyer, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Pretoria, told the Daily Telegraph: "Obviously the president and the first lady and everyone is keeping him their thoughts and prayers. We certainly will be watching and following developments but for now, we are continuing with preparations (for the visit)."
On Friday, before Mr Mandela's health took a downturn, Ben Rhodes, a deputy US national security adviser, said of the visit: "Ultimately, we want whatever is in the best interests of his (Mandela's) health and the peace of mind of the Mandela family. We will be in touch with them. If he has an opportunity to see the family in some capacity, that's certainly something that we may do."
Before visiting South Africa, President Obama is due to visit Senegal. His final stop on the tour will be in Tanzania.
Mandela's deterioration this weekend, two weeks after being admitted in a serious but stable condition, has caused a perceptible switch in mood from prayers for recovery to preparations for a fond farewell.
Since stepping down in as president in 1999 after one term, Mandela has stayed out of active politics in a country with the continent's biggest and most important economy.
His last public appearance was waving to fans from the back of a golf cart before the final of the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium in July 2010.
During his retirement, he has divided his time between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, and Qunu, the village in the poor Eastern Cape province where he was born.
The public's last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by Zuma and other senior ANC officials.
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Holborn fire: Chaos as 2,000 people evacuated to escape toxic smoke filling central London
University of Cambridge: Remains of 1,300 scholars are found under building
April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
April Fools' Day 2015 live: The best pranks and fake stories from around the world
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...