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Presidents past and present, global figures and A-list celebrities made their way to South Africa on Monday to pay the world's respects at a memorial service and state funeral for freedom icon Nelson Mandela. More than 80,000 people will attend an impassioned, emotional tribute Tuesday to the country's inspirational first black president at the FNB stadium in Soweto, where he made his last major public appearance for the 2010 World Cup final. The service is seen as a final chance for grieving South Africans to unite in a mass celebration of Mandela's life ahead of the more formal state funeral. Although Mandela had been critically ill for months, the announcement of his death on Thursday night was still a body blow for a country that had looked to his unassailable moral authority as a comforting constant in a time of uncertain social and economic change.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday as Washington seeks to defuse tensions over controversial US drone strikes and Islamabad's role in Afghanistan. In the first visit by a US defence secretary in nearly four years, Hagel flew from Kabul to Islamabad to meet the premier and the country's new army chief General Raheel Sharif. Ties between Washington and Islamabad have been seriously strained over US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt as well as Afghan Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan's borders.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate vote to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms capable of evading metal detectors and X-ray machines is shaping up as a bittersweet moment for gun control supporters, days before the anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.