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Pranab to Lead Indian Delegation at Mandela's Funeral

President Pranab Mukherjee is likely to represent India in the funeral of South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela on December 15.

It is learnt that a proposal to this effect has gone to the President for his approval.

The state funeral will be held in Mandela's childhood home, Qunu village in the Eastern Cape.

The External Affairs Ministry had yesterday said India will be represented by a "high-level" delegation at the funeral of Mandela who died yesterday at the age of 95 following a protracted illness.

The anti-apartheid icon, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, was recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, and a well-known Gandhian.

In his condolence message, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his as a "giant among men" who not only represented the conscience of the world but also remained a beacon of hope for those struggling against oppression and injustice long after he had led his own people to victory over such ills.

South Africa today began preparations for the funeral which will be preceded by ten days of memorial events expected to draw an unprecedented number of world leaders and luminaries.

Mandela's memorial service at the 95,000-seat FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday is expected to be one of the largest such gatherings in decades.

Leaders from around the world are expected to pay their respect to Mandela at various events.

Memorial events for the statesman, who dismantled the apartheid regime and served as South Africa's first black President, will also be held across the country during December 11-13.

World leaders are set to converge on the country for the memorial events and the funeral.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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