Iranian Vice-President for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari is slated to take part in the funeral ceremony of former South African President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. Shariatmadari will head a high-ranking delegation in Mandela’s funeral ceremony scheduled to be held in Soto city near Johannesburg tomorrow. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was initially planned to attend Mandela’s funeral on behalf of the Islamic Republic, but he had to cancel the trip to host his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov who is due to arrive in Tehran tomorrow. Mandela died at the age of 95 on Thursday while receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital. In a statement on South African national TV, President Jacob Zuma said that Mandela died "peacefully" and surrounded by his family at his Johannesburg home on Thursday evening. "This is our moment of deepest sorrow, our nation has lost its greatest son," said Zuma, describing the anti-apartheid icon as a "father" to the nation. South Africans would "mourn the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of common nationhood". The South African government announced that 59 world leaders will attend Mandela’s funeral procession in Johannesburg. His body will be laid to rest in his birthplace next Sunday. Mandela led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison. Over the course of his life, anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela provided many memorable speeches and soundbites. In the dock at the 1964 Rivonia Trial facing the gallows for acts of sabotage against the apartheid government, he told the court, "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent his deepest condolences to Nelson Mandela's family and the people of South Africa Thursday calling Mandela "a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration."
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