President Barack Obama pauses as he makes a statement regarding the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
David Jackson, USA TODAY
Expect President Obama to confirm soon he will attend Nelson Mandela's funeral.
Officials have held off on a formal announcement as travel plans are worked out; Mandela's funeral will be part of a mourning period in South Africa that will last about ten days.
In the meantime, Obama has directed that American flags be lowered to half-staff through Monday in honor of the freedom fighter who died Thursday at age 95.
In a proclamation honoring Mandela, Obama wrote that "the United States has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity -- Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, he belongs to the ages."
Mandela "transformed South Africa -- and moved the entire world," Obama wrote. "His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better."
The resolution said: "While we mourn his loss, we will forever honor Nelson Mandela's memory. He left behind a South Africa that is free."
The White House also announced that Obama phoned current South African President Jacob Zuma to express the nation's condolences.
Said a White House statement:
"The President conveyed how profoundly Mandela's extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness, and humility influenced his own life, as well as those of millions around the world.
"President Obama reaffirmed that the strong and historic partnership between the United States and South Africa will continue to draw strength from Mandela's legacy as we work together to promote equality, reconciliation and human dignity, and to build a more just and prosperous world."