Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 17:43 UK

Mandela meeting inspires Clinton


Hillary Clinton visits Nelson Mandela - Pictures Nelson Mandela Foundation

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she felt inspired by her meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela.

The meeting at his home in Johannesburg came on the second leg of her tour of Africa.

Mrs Clinton hailed Mr Mandela for the personal discipline he showed when he fought South Africa's apartheid system.

She was shown handwritten copies of Mr Mandela's letters from his time as a political prisoner.

Mrs Clinton was also shown his membership card of the Methodist Church, a denomination to which she also belongs.

Referring to these documents, she said: "It of course inspires in me an even greater admiration for his public work but an even greater affection for the man.

"The discipline that he brought to a life filled with so many great achievements, not only for him personally but for South Africa and the world."

Relations between the US and South Africa were warm during the 1990s under President Mandela and Mrs Clinton's husband Bill Clinton, the then US president, says the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg.

A commission was established to prioritise areas of cooperation, but when Mr Clinton left the White House this was quietly forgotten, our correspondent says.

South African officials hope that the visit by Mrs Clinton will signal a new period of cooperation to support the already strong business links between the two countries, he adds.

'Working together'

Earlier, Mrs Clinton met South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and said the US and South Africa were "working together" to bring about reform in Zimbabwe.

South Africa
Democratic Republic of Congo
Cape Verde

"We're working together to realise the vision of a free, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe," Mrs Clinton said in a joint news conference with Ms Nkoana-Mashabane.

"We're going to be closely consulting as to how best to deal with what is a very difficult situation for South Africa and for the United States, but mostly for the people of Zimbabwe."

In the coming days, Mrs Clinton will meet South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, when she is likely again to address the situation in Zimbabwe, as well as discussing business and health.

Zimbabwe's economy has improved in recent months but the US is concerned that many of the political and social reforms promised by President Robert Mugabe following the power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have not yet been implemented.

In their meeting on Saturday, Mrs Clinton is expected to ask Mr Zuma to use his influence to combat what she has called the "negative effects" of Mr Mugabe's presidency.

Earlier, Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said she believed the Obama administration would work alongside the African Union in helping to bring peace to parts of Africa.

"We see this administration and the government of the USA as a strategic partner on the political front, as we work with them to look at the mechanisms to resolve areas of conflict working together with the African Union," she said.

Mrs Clinton is also due to meet Deputy-President Kgalema Motlanthe.

She will also attend a conference with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi before attending National Women's Day events in the capital, Pretoria.

African potential

Hillary Clinton spoke about Somalia at the University of Nairobi

Mrs Clinton began her seven-nation African tour in Kenya on Wednesday, where she held talks in Nairobi with Kenya's president and prime minister.

Addressing African leaders at an economic summit, Mrs Clinton said the continent had "enormous potential for progress".

But she stressed that harnessing that potential would require democracy and good governance.

Before Mrs Clinton arrived in Kenya, the US embassy in Nairobi had issued a statement scolding Kenya for its decision not to set up a local court to seek justice for the victims of the deadly clashes which followed the 2007 election.

On Thursday, Mrs Clinton met the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in the Kenyan capital.

She offered to increase US support for his unity government and to "take action" against neighbouring Eritrea if it did not stop supporting militants in Somalia.

Eritrea denies supporting Somalia's al-Shabab militants, who are trying to overthrow Somalia's government.

The Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu told the BBC Mrs Clinton's comments were "very disappointing" and that the White House had "failed to learn mistakes of the previous US administration".

Mrs Clinton's 11-day trip will take her to Angola on Sunday before she heads to Nigeria, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cape Verde.

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