(JOHANNESBURG, South Africa) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first order of business on her three-day visit to South Africa is a trip to Nelson Mandela’s ancestral village of Qunu for a private meeting with the anti-apartheid hero and former president.
The State Department said she is going to “pay her respects” to Mandela before a series of meetings focused on strengthening the United States’ trade relationship with South Africa.
Clinton’s visit come less than a month after her husband, Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, visited Mandela at his home as the country celebrated Mandela’s 94th birthday. Bill Clinton said he and Mandela worked together when they were both presidents of their countries and continue to work together through their foundations to improve the lives of children around the world.
Mandela has retired to his childhood home and no longer makes public appearances. The pictures and occasional video released when high-profile visitors meet with him in Qunu have become the primary way citizens of South Africa are assured of Mandela’s good health after a couple of health scares in the last couple of years. His family acknowledges he is frail, but says he still reads the newspapers everyday and enjoys receiving visitors.
After Secretary Clinton’s visit with Mandela, she will return to Johannesburg where she is scheduled to meet with attendees at the first United States-South Africa Business Summit, which organizers expect will become an annual event. A delegation of American business executives is accompanying Clinton on her visit to South Africa, including representatives from Boeing, Chevron, FedEx and Wal-Mart.
South Africa is the largest economy on the continent, which is currently home to six of the fastest growing economies in the world. The U.S. is South Africa’s third largest trading partner, behind China and Germany, and it is the largest market in Africa for American goods.
“Expanding and deepening this vital economic relationship helps to grow businesses, increase exports, and create jobs in both countries,” the State Department said.
Clinton is on an 11-day tour of African nations that has taken her to Senegal, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Malawi. After meetings in the South African cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, she is scheduled to visit Nigeria, Ghana and Benin before heading to Turkey on Saturday for a talk about the crisis in Syria.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Lauren del Valle, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN