Chancellor meets Mandela in a "moving moment"

6th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 October 2007, Johannesburg (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Saturday with former South African president Nelson Mandela and declared afterwards that it had been a "very moving moment" to meet the hero of the anti-apartheid movement. Merkel met for 45 minutes with the 89-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was accompanied by his wife Graca Machel for what was the German leader's first-ever personal meeting with Mandela. "It was a very moving moment for me to experience and to speak with Ne

6 October 2007

Johannesburg (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Saturday with former South African president Nelson Mandela and declared afterwards that it had been a "very moving moment" to meet the hero of the anti-apartheid movement.

Merkel met for 45 minutes with the 89-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was accompanied by his wife Graca Machel for what was the German leader's first-ever personal meeting with Mandela.

"It was a very moving moment for me to experience and to speak with Nelson Mandela," the Berlin leader said, describing him as a monument of humanity.

She noted that as a young woman while she was living in the former communist East Germany, she had followed with interest Mandela's opposition activities to end apartheid and so it was her special wish to have a chance to meet him.

With Mandela having largely withdrawn from the public limelight, Merkel and Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul regarded it as an honour that they were given an appointment with the former South African president.

The meeting took place in the library of the Nelson Mandela Foundation which has joined in the battle against AIDS in South Africa. There was a bit of joking when he asked Merkel whether she wanted some rum in her coffee. When she asked whether he drank rum with his coffee, he said he was too old.

Moments later, when Wieczorek-Zeul disclosed that her ministry was donating 2.5 million euros (3.6 million dollars) to his foundation, Mandela said: "You have just made me younger."

Graca Machel, now one of Africa's most influential women, praised Merkel for her efforts on behalf of the forthcoming European Union- Africa summit. But she warned the Berlin leader not to make too much of an issue of the participation of Zimbabwe's controversial leader Robert Mugabe.

Mandela, for his part said that the most important message must be peace itself. Whether Sudan, Congo or Somalia, all conflicts must be resolved through peace. He had arrived at this maxim during his many long years in prison, he told Merkel.

Merkel arrived in South Africa late Thursday evening on the second leg of a three-nation trip to Africa. She met President Thabo Mbeki on Friday. She leaves South Africa on Sunday, with a brief stopover scheduled in Liberia before returning home.

The German leader headed to Cape Town on Saturday evening to visit an anti-AIDS project set up by German priest Stefan Hippler.

The "HOPE" (HIV Outreach Program and Education) project aims to provide support to local health education services in the battle against AIDS and other diseases. HOPE is chiefly financed by private donations from Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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