Senegal rolls out red carpet for the First Family as Obama starts Africa tour amid fears over Nelson Mandela's failing health. The First Family landed safely in Senegal, kicking off a highly-anticipated tour of Africa that will see President Barack Obama visit three countries with First Lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia in tow.
However, the failing health of former South African President Nelson Mandela is casting a shadow on the President's weeklong visit - only his second since taking office.Air Force One touched down in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on Wednesday evening. The president and his family are also scheduled to visit South Africa and Tanzania.
Obama advisers have been reluctant to publicly discuss what impact his condition might have on Obama's trip. There had been no formal plans for the two men to meet, though Obama aides did leave open the possibility of the U.S. president meeting with Mandela's family.
'Ultimately, we want whatever is in the best interest of his health and the peace of mind of the Mandela family,' said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser.
The president is expected to be greeted warmly during his trip, despite the underlying sense of disappointment. American flags dotted the roadways as Obama's motorcade sped through this coastal city, and signs welcoming Obama and bearing his picture hung on homes and businesses.
Obama's father was born in Kenya and several of his relatives still live there. But despite his family ties to the continent, Obama spent just one day in Africa during his first four years in office and has focused instead on strengthening U.S. ties with Asia and Latin America.