This is a CBS news special report President Obama speaking about the death of Nelson Mandela. I'm Dan -- the President Obama in the White House briefing room is about to say something in tribute to Mandela. -- a 95 -- near Johannesburg. A CBS news White House correspondent Peter Mayer did mr. Obama ever meet the former south African president. Indeed he did and when the president was Senator Obama from Illinois. He did meet Nelson Mandela he was unable to see him. Earlier this year back in June when he was in South Africa because Mandela has been so very ill. The death of Mandela sometimes called South Africa's George Washington the first non white black African president. Of that mostly black country was announced about forty minutes ago. By South Africa's current president Jacob Zuma who last his fifty million citizens to react with the dignity and respect. That Mandela personify it. -- we expect to hear words of tribute from Barack Obama in the White House briefing room shortly. Already messages are coming in from other world leaders for instance from former president George H. W. Bush. So the Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest believers in freedom we've had the privilege to know. The elder President Bush added I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers. Following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment. Setting -- powerful example of redemption and grace for a soul. There will of course be tributes from all around the world. And perhaps before mr. Obama comes to the podium I can ask briefly Peter -- to have any idea who would represent the US government at the funeral. Well I can tell you Dan when we were in South Africa with the president to back in June we were told that -- he would. Personally represent the US lead the US delegation here as President Obama -- go. Thank you. -- in 1964. Nelson Mandela -- a statement from the -- Saying. I have fought against white domination. And I have fought against black governors. I've cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons. Live together in harmony and would equal opportunities. It is my deal which I hope to live for. And to achieve. But it -- speak. It is an ideal for which I'm prepared to die. And Nelson Mandela lived for that I deal. And he made it real. Can achieve more than could be expected. A betting man. Today is gone home. We've lost one of the most influential. Courageous and profoundly good human beings than any of us -- -- time -- on this -- He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages. Through his -- dignity and unbending will to sacrifices on freedom for the freedom of others. -- -- transformed South Africa and moved. All of us. His journey from prisoner. To president. Embodied the promise that human beings and countries. Can change for the better. Its commitment to transfer power. And reconcile what those who jailed him. -- an example that. All humanity should aspire to weather in the lives of nations world personal ones. The fact that he did at all with grace. And good humor. And ability to acknowledge his own imperfections only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he wants certain. I'm not a saint. Unless you think I would say the senator who keeps on trying. I'm one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action. The first thing I ever -- That involved. An issue or policy or politics. Was protest against department. I was study his words and his -- The day he was released from prison. Gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their -- by the fierce. And like so many around the globe I cannot fully imagine my own -- without the example. That Nelson Mandela sent. And so long. As I live older what I can learn from him. To. -- Michelle and his family. Michelle and I. Extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with -- us. His life's work -- long days away from those who love the most. And I only hope that the times spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort -- this -- Two people South Africa. We draw strength from the example of renewal and reconciliation. And resilience. That you've made real. Free South Africa at peace. -- itself. That's an example to the world. And that's what gave -- legacy to the nation this -- what. We will not like receive the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us. As best we can before. The example that he set. To make decisions guided not by hate but. But by a lot of never discount the difference that one person can make. The strive for future that is worthy. -- sacrifice. For now let's pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lift. A man who took history. In this dance. And then they are -- more universe. Towards justice. -- got what's his memory and keep him in peace. President Obama speaking from the White House live coverage from CBS news. Let's turn to CBS news White House correspondent Peter -- South Africa is starting of course a period of -- official mourning. For listeners who who just joined us there will be a state funeral of course in South Africa Peter who apparently will represent the United States. Well there's no official announcement yet -- -- again when we were in South Africa. We were told on the sidelines of the president would very likely attend the Mandela funeral when the time came this was. Highly personal statement by the president. Telling the nation that is very first involvement in that any type of political action. Was a protest against a part time that you said that he studied. The words of the writings of Nelson Mandela not the first time that he talked about Mandela the inspiration. And Peter you work covering President Obama in South Africa this year. But he did not go to see. The former president is then why. Well because Mandela was just so very ill with -- respiratory illness that took his life at the age of 95. Adjusted -- and the president was able to visit along with mrs. Obama members of the Mandela family in Johannesburg. The president there repeatedly paid tribute to Mandela and not only in South Africa but the other African nations. That he visited saying very much the same thing that that you said that today. Talking about the example. That this isn't decisions of the Mandela made that were guided by feet and not by love. The president also on that trip Dan page depth and emotional visit. His second visit to Robin island. The prison where Mandela was held for more than 25 years during the apartheid era in South Africa we should say that mrs. Obama. Did meet personally with the Nelson Mandela. Just a couple of years ago in June of 2011. A sense of connection then between the Obama family. And Nelson Mandela who passed away today at age 95 that CBS news White House correspondent Peter -- Let's -- with -- there will be many tributes from all around the world but the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon. Has just issued a statement that says he's profoundly saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela a giant for justice. And it down to earth human inspiration. I will never forget his selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose. On behalf of the UN I extend my deepest condolences to Nelson Mandela's family the people of South Africa and indeed our global family. And that statement just shows the sense all around the world that Nelson Mandela was a hero. He was freed from prison after almost 27 years of detention. And he got out without anger and made sure there was no revenge. Leading their four as President Obama just said to a peaceful South Africa. This has been -- CBS news special report president Obama's tribute to Nelson Mandela who died today. I'm Dan repeat CBS news.