The Washington Times - December 9, 2013, 12:31PM

Vice President Joseph R. Biden and wife Jill visited the South Africa Embassy in Washington Monday and signed a condolence book honoring Nelson Mandela.

“On behalf of the American people, our deepest condolences to the people of South Africa for the passing of Nelson Mandela,” Mr.Biden wrote in the book. “But more than that, our profound gratitude — for his compassion, his humility, and his courage.”

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The message continued: “Through his unflagging, unflinching commitment to human dignity and his willingness to forgive, he inspired us and challenged us all to do better. He once said that ‘a good head and a good heart is a formidable combination.’ Mandela’s head and heart lifted a nation to freedom. We will continue to keep his spirit alive and strive to live by his example.”

Outside the embassy, Mr. Biden paused at a statue of Mr. Mandela and said the late anti-apartheid leader was “the most remarkable man I met in my whole career.”

Mr. Biden will speak Wednesday at a special memorial service for Mr. Mandela at the National Cathedral in Washington.

The Bidens are staying in Washington while President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend a memorial service for Mr. Mandela in South Africa on Tuesday. Three former presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — are also going to South Africa for the service.