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Michelle Obama embarks on Africa visit

By AFP


Michelle Obama's Africa trip will include stops in Pretoria, Cape Town and Gabarone. By Jewel Samad (AFP/File)


WASHINGTON (AFP) - US First Lady Michelle Obama is en route to Pretoria on Monday to kick off a six-day Africa visit, during which she will meet anti-apartheid leaders in South Africa and go on safari in Botswana.

President Barack Obama's wife, their daughters Sasha and Malia, her mother Marian Robinson and two nephews departed Washington late Sunday and are scheduled to arrive in South Africa around 1800 GMT on Monday.

They will meet symbols of the decades-long anti-apartheid struggle, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, the rights activist Graca Machel.

The presidential party will visit the capital Pretoria and South Africa's tourist jewel Cape Town, before traveling to the Botswanan capital Gabarone and heading home to the United States on Sunday.

"Youth leadership, education, health and wellness" will be the focus of the trip, according to the White House, which confirmed the departure.

After meeting Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, the wife of South African president Jacob Zuma, on Tuesday, Obama will visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, where she will be given a tour by Machel.

There are no plans announced to visit Mandela, who at 92 is in fragile health, although the White House has left open the possibility of a meeting.

© 2011 AFP

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