( dpa ) - Two days of celebrations will be held to mark the opening of the new US embassy in the centre of Berlin, US Ambassador William R. Timken said Thursday.
The four-storey structure is due to open on July 4, US independence day, after a decade of delays and wrangles over US demands that traffic be kept away from the building.
A cultural programme and fireworks display will be held on the day of the opening, followed a day later by a festival organized by German-American clubs in one of the capital's main streets.
Crowned by a glass-and-steel penthouse conference room, the embassy is located on the site of the old, pre-World War II embassy on Pariser Platz, where the landmark Brandenburg Gate is located.
The area is one of the city's main tourist attractions, close to the Holocaust Memorial, the Academy of Arts and the French and British embassies near where the Berlin Wall once stood.
The previous embassy, badly damaged during the war, was torn down by the East German communist authorities in 1957.
Since Germany's 1990 reunification, US diplomats have been housed in a former Prussian officers club in an unwelcoming side street which is sealed off with concrete barriers and has guards on duty round the clock.
"We could have built an embassy out in the woods at half the cost and twice the security," Timken told reporters. "We are here as a symbol of our desire to be a partner to Germany."
Security to defeat terrorist bombings, drive-by shootings or mob attacks on the Pariser Platz embassy is likely to be comprehensive, with dozens of bollards around the compound to prevent vehicles approaching.
Wrangles over security caused the delay in making a start on the 130-million-dollar embassy, which was designed by US California architects Moore Ruble Yudell.
After the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, US officials demanded that Berlin shift two streets for the new building to provide a 30-metre buffer zone.
The proposal upset the Berlin authorities as it would have required a redesign of the historic streets.
A compromise was reached. The buffer zone was reduced to 25 metres, and one street was realigned by 8 metres.
In return, US officials promised to provide a sidewalk with trees, fronting on to the Holocaust Memorial.