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Biden campaign plays down South Africa ‘arrest’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Joe Biden has said three times he was arrested during the trip to South Africa Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has distanced itself from his assertions he was arrested in South Africa while trying to visit Nelson Mandela.Mr Biden has said he was arrested during a trip to the country…

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Joe Biden has said three times he was arrested during the trip to South Africa

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has distanced itself from his assertions he was arrested in South Africa while trying to visit Nelson Mandela.Mr Biden has said he was arrested during a trip to the country in the 1970s, when it was under apartheid.But a deputy campaign manager told reporters he had been referring to an episode where he was separated from black colleagues at an airport.He is third in the race for the Democrats’ presidential nomination.He first made the assertion at an event in South Carolina earlier this month, reminiscing about his personal history with Mandela, South Africa’s first black president who died in 2013.Mr Biden – at the time a senator for Delaware – said he had been visiting the country with a delegation of American officials, and had planned to visit Mandela in prison.But during the trip, Mr Biden said he had “had the great honour of being arrested with our UN ambassador on the streets of Soweto” while trying to reach the civil rights leader on Robben Island. The town of Soweto is more than 760 miles (1,223km) from Robben Island.At a black history awards brunch in Las Vegas last week, he also said Mandela had thanked him for his efforts.”He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you,'” Mr Biden told onlookers. “I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr President?’ He said: ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.'”

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