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Obama making long-anticipated return to Africa

Wednesday - 6/26/2013, 1:22pm  ET

President Barack Obama, lets his mother-in-law Marian Robinson, niece Leslie Robinson, daughter Malia Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Sasha Obama, not pictured, board the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base as they begin their trip to Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is heading to Africa, and the health of former South African leader Nelson Mandela is hanging over the planned weeklong visit.

The first family departed Wednesday for Senegal. Other stops are scheduled for South Africa and Tanzania.

Obama has visited sub-Saharan Africa once before as president, and that was a brief stop in Ghana in 2009.

Mandela is hospitalized in South Africa and surrounded by family. White House advisers say they will defer to the anti-apartheid leader's relatives on whether he's up for a visit from Obama.

Missing from Obama's itinerary is Kenya, his father's birthplace and home to many of his relatives. Kenya's new president is facing war crimes charges, making it an awkward time for a U.S. president to visit.

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