Bush to join Obama in S. Africa next week for Mandela memorial

President Barack Obama (left) and former president George W. Bush arrive for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. Mr Obama and his predecessor, Mr Bush, will travel to South Africa next we
President Barack Obama (left) and former president George W. Bush arrive for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. Mr Obama and his predecessor, Mr Bush, will travel to South Africa next week to participate in memorial events for Mr Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who died on Thursday.  -- FILE PHOTO: AP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama and his predecessor, Mr George W. Bush, will travel to South Africa next week to participate in memorial events for Mr Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who died on Thursday. 

Their exact schedule was as yet unclear and it was not known whether Mr Obama would make public remarks in South Africa.

"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. We'll have further updates on timing and logistics as they become available," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Separately, Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said Mr Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, would travel with the Obamas.

"President and Mrs. George W. Bush have gratefully accepted the president and Mrs. Obama's invitation to accompany them to South Africa on Air Force One and attend President Nelson Mandela's memorial services next week," Mr Ford said.

Mr Bush has made Africa a central focus since leaving the White House. He met Mr Obama in Tanzania last July and they stood side-by-side to commemorate the victims of the 1998 al Qaeda bombing of the US Embassy there.

Mr Obama, speaking on Thursday night shortly after Mr Mandela's death at age 95 was announced, said he was one of the "countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life."

Mr Obama, America's first black president, also said the first political action he ever took as a young man was attending a protest against apartheid.

Mr Carney, at his daily news briefing, said Mr Obama and Mr Mandela last spoke in 2010 or 2011 and that they also spoke when Mr Obama was first elected president in 2008.

He had no details on who might be in the US delegation traveling with Mr Obama, including whether former American presidents might go with him.