White House

Obama, first lady to travel to South Africa to honor Mandela

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa next week for memorial services honoring Nelson Mandela, the White House said Friday. 

The decision had been widely expected, as many U.S. officials are considering traveling to South Africa next week to honor the late leader. Former President George W. Bush, as well as Laura Bush, also plan to travel with the Obamas on Air Force One to the services, a spokesman confirmed. 

Mandela, the former South African president who led the fight to end apartheid, died Thursday at age 95. 

Obama, in remarks from the White House Thursday afternoon, called Mandela one of the "most influential, courageous and profoundly good" people to have ever lived. 

"He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages," he said. 

A congressional delegation is likely to accompany Obama during the visit next week. Lawmakers, though, are still scrambling to finish their work for the year, with a major set of deadlines looming -- including deadlines to pass a budget, a farm bill and a defense bill. 

House Speaker John Boehner has said he plans to adjourn the House next Friday, which could give lawmakers just enough time to travel to South Africa. A state burial has been set for Dec. 15. 

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Wes Barrett contributed to this report.