President Barack Obama says he's concerned about Nelson Mandela's health, but that the anti-apartheid leader is as strong physically as he has been in leadership and character.
Obama says he's sending his thoughts and prayers to Mandela, who is back in the hospital for the third time in months with a chronic lung infection.
Obama says Mandela, South Africa's first black president, is a hero and an inspiration who gave everything to his people.
Obama's remarks came Thursday as he met with the leaders of Sierra Leone, Senegal, Malawi and Cape Verde. He says the meeting focused on strengthening democratic institutions, expanding economic cooperation and dealing with transnational security threats.