Obama: U.S. won't take sides in Egypt's political clashes

Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET

(CBS News) President Obama was in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday morning for the second part of his three-nation tour of Africa.

Mr. Obama was there for talks with South African President Jacob Zuma, but his thoughts are not far from Nelson Mandela, who is critically ill nearby.

American college student Andrew Pochter is seen in this undated picture provided by Kenyon College.
American college student Andrew Pochter is seen in this undated picture provided by Kenyon College.
Kenyon College

CBS News' Major Garrett reports from Johannesburg that in a press conference with Zuma Mr. Obama for the first time addressed the news out of Alexandria, Egypt, Friday where a 21-year-old American college student was killed in violence against the sitting government of Mohammed Morsi.

The president offered condolences and said the United States will not take sides in that democratic dispute on the streets of Alexandria and throughout Egypt, but he wants reconciliation to begin and talks to be carried out in a more peaceful manner.

The president said that the United States is invested in the democratic evolution of Egypt and very much troubled by this outbreak of violence. He also said the top priority for the U.S. government is to protect all U.S. embassy and consulate facilities in Egypt.

The president also said he was deeply concerned about Mandela's deteriorating health. The president will not visit the ailing Mandela in the hospital, but he met with the Mandela family Saturday. At Saturday's press conference, the president talked about Mandela's reach and legacy.

(Watch Debora Patta report the latest on Mandela's condition at left)

Obama meets Mandela family as icon remains in hospital

"The triumph of Nelson Mandela and this nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit, the yearning for justice and dignity that transcends boundaries of race and class and faith and country," said Mr. Obama. "That's what Nelson Mandela represents. That's what South Africa, at its best, can represent to the world."

Mr. Obama along this trip - starting in Senegal, now in South Africa, later in Tanzania - is trying to increase U.S. development throughout Africa. There's been some criticism because this is the president's first extensive trip to sub-Saharan Africa of his presidency, the United States allegedly late to the game in development opportunities in Africa.

The president said the United States will compete against China, Brazil, Turkey and India, who all are already on the continent, and over time outdo them.

Watch Major Garrett's full report in the player above