George HW Bush to open new US embassy in Berlin

Other News Materials 4 April 2008 22:34 (UTC +04:00)

Former US president George HW Bush is to visit Berlin to open the United States' landmark new embassy in German capital on July 4, US Independence Day, an embassy spokesman disclosed Friday. ( dpa )

The United States has been building up to the opening, previously announcing two days of festivities. Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to speak at the opening party for the grand new building.

A road was realigned specially for the four-storey embassy, just a few metres from Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, but only after a decade of wrangling with municipal authorities who objected to outside pressure to alter the city's street system.

US law requires a separation from streets to defeat terrorist bombings, drive-by shootings or mob attacks.

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. The area is one of the city's main tourist attractions and is close to the Holocaust Memorial.

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 around the clock.

The 130-million-dollar embassy was designed by Californian architects Moore Ruble Yudell.

A German newspaper, the Saarbruecker Zeitung, was set to report Saturday that former president Bush, father of current President George W Bush was invited because he was in the White House at the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

The newspaper said, George W Bush, who will be presiding over Independence Day celebrations in the United States on July 4, was likely to stop by in Berlin for two days somewhat earlier, in June, on a farewell visit as the end of his presidency nears.

Asked for comment, an embassy spokesman said only the White House could announce presidential trips.