New US embassy in Berlinmarks improving ties

6th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 October 2004 , BERLIN - US and German officials used a groundbreaking ceremony for the new American embassy in Berlin on Wednesday to highlight improving transatlantic ties following bitter differences over the Iraq war. "The decision of the United States to return to this historic site symbolises America's support of a unified Germany," said United States Ambassador to Germany Daniel Coats in a speech to politicians and diplomats attending the ceremony. America's embassy will be in downtown Berlin betwe

6 October 2004

BERLIN - US and German officials used a groundbreaking ceremony for the new American embassy in Berlin on Wednesday to highlight improving transatlantic ties following bitter differences over the Iraq war.

"The decision of the United States to return to this historic site symbolises America's support of a unified Germany," said United States Ambassador to Germany Daniel Coats in a speech to politicians and diplomats attending the ceremony.

America's embassy will be in downtown Berlin between the historic Brandenburg Gate and the soon to be completed Holocaust Memorial. The Gate symbolised Cold War German division because it stood in the Berlin Wall's death strip until the Wall's 1989 opening.

From 1945 until the 1990 German reunification former West Berlin was an outpost under the control of the US, along with Britain and France.

"We should remind ourselves that, above all, we have to thank our American friends for the fact that we are standing on this side of the Gate," said German Interior Minister Otto Schily in a speech.

The carefully chosen words by both sides highlighted ongoing German and American efforts to emphasis the positive in a bid to bury the row caused by Berlin's strong opposition to the US-led war in Iraq.

The new US embassy is being built on the exact site of America's former embassy to Germany. The old structure was badly damaged during World War II and torn down by communist East Germany in the 1950s.

Wrangles over American security concerns led to a long delay in starting work on the Berlin embassy and the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US made safety issues even more urgent.

Germany, nevertheless, rejected a requested 30 metre security perimeter for the embassy and after years of debate the zone was reduced to 25 metres.

"(It's) a state of art perimeter security system," said Charles Williams, an US official attending the ceremony.

The post-modern four and a half story building - clad in pale stone matching the Brandenburg Gate - is designed by the US firm Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners.

Architects for the firm said their objective was to integrate the building into its historic environment. The entrance on Pariserplatz will be covered in glass to let light through the stone and steel complex and its large courtyard.

The new embassy is due to open in late 2007 or early 2008.

Groundbreaking was purposely held on German-American Day, a U.S. commemoration created by U.S. president Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Ambassdor Coats told the ceremony that since the first German immigrant arrived in the US on 6 October 1683, the country's German-American population has grown to 45 million today.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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