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President Abbas to visit South Africa for Mandela memorial service

Dec. 8, 2013 12:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 9, 2013 11:40 A.M.)
JOHANNESBURG (Ma'an) -- Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will participate in the memorial service for the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela in South Africa next week, sources told Ma'an.

A high-level Palestinian delegation will accompany Abbas to South Africa for the services, which begin on Tuesday and are scheduled to continue until the late South African leader's burial next Saturday in the Eastern Cape.

In statements on Friday following Mandela's death, Abbas said, "The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free."

At that time, he described Mandela as the "most courageous and important of those who supported us."

Separately, the public information officer of the Embassy of Palestine to South Africa Tamir al-Masri wrote in a Facebook post that former South African president Thabo Mbeki accompanied the Palestinian ambassador to the home of the Mandela family to offer condolences last week.

Nelson Mandela was a frequent advocate of the Palestinian cause.

Mandela called Israel a "terror state" in October 1990 during a visit to Australia, lambasting Israel for "slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories."

"We don't regard that as acceptable," he continued.

In an interview in June 1990 with ABC News, meanwhile, Mandela said, "We identify with the PLO because, just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self-determination."
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