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Putin praises Mandela for role in African history


17:36, July 18, 2013

MOSCOW, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who is battling for life in hospital, is an integral part of Africa's modern history, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

"Your name is inseparably linked with an entire epoch of Africa's modern history that heralded the building of the new and democratic Republic of South Africa," Putin said in his message congratulating Mandela on his 95th birthday.

In the message published on the Kremlin website, Putin said Mandela has a well-deserved authority both in South Africa and abroad thanks to his decades-long political and public activities.

He also highly praised Mandela's role in promoting friendly relations between Russia and South Africa, calling them strategic partners.

Also on Thursday, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that Mandela remains in hospital in Pretoria, but his doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving.

"On behalf of the government and all the people of South Africa, we wish Mandela a joyous 95th birthday," Zuma said, adding it is a double-happiness day.

Mandela has been receiving treatment for more than a month after being taken to hospital on June 8 for serious recurring lung infection.

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