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Obama Traveling to South Africa Friday From Senegal


U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by a Senegalese honor guard as he arrives at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by a Senegalese honor guard as he arrives at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013.

President Barack Obama leaves Senegal Friday for South Africa, continuing a three-nation Africa trip designed to signal a more robust U.S. engagement with the continent.

Obama's final day in Senegal is about one of his key policy priorities for the continent - enhancing food security.

He will attend an event with business leaders and agricultural ministers from West Africa and elsewhere on the continent.

Senegal will announce key reforms needed to join a food security initiative Mr. Obama and G8 leaders announced at their summit last year.

The initiative involves private sector commitments to food and agriculture projects across Africa in exchange for reforms, with a goal of lifting 50 million people out of poverty within a decade.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said private companies will announce $134 million in new investment commitments in Senegal's agricultural system. The United States will announce a new $47 million commitment.

Video report by Dan Robinson
Late Friday, President Obama arrives in South Africa amid sorrow there, and around the world, over the failing health of former President Nelson Mandela.

In an off-camera briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes stressed that Mr. Obama is completely deferring to the wishes of the Mandela family on interactions with them.

Obama's schedule includes a visit to Robben Island, where Mr. Mandela was jailed for close to 20 years.

Rhodes said Mr. Obama looks forward to being able to take his family to Robben Island and to reflect there on Mr. Mandela's sacrifices.

President Obama offered some reflections about Mr. Mandela on Thursday during a joint news conference with Senegal's president, Macky Sall.

Mr. Obama said he was inspired by the example and sacrifices of the anti-apartheid icon.

“He is a personal hero, but don't think I am unique in that regard. I think he is a hero for the world. And if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we will all know is that his legacy is one that will linger throughout the ages,” the president said.

Deputy National Security Adviser Rhodes said the political and human rights situation in neighboring Zimbabwe is sure to come up in Mr. Obama's talks with South African President Jacob Zuma.

Rhodes said Mr. Obama will speak in Capetown to South Africans and the continent about the partnership the U.S. seeks with Africa.
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