Leaders gather at Berlin Wall

20:47, November 09, 2009      

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World leaders, both past and present, are gathering in Germany Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev and representatives from across the European Union as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of German unity.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will later pay tribute to "the unbreakable spirit of men and women who dared to dream."

French President Nicholas Sarkosy has already aired his views on his Facebook page. Sarkozy shared his own memories of November 9 saying he had been in Berlin and was among the first to chip away at the Wall's concrete slabs.

"We then headed for Checkpoint Charlie (border crossing) to see the eastern side of the city and finally confront this Wall and I was able to take a pickaxe to it," he wrote.

Meanwhile Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was posted as a KGB agent in Dresden under communism, said he had fond memories of East Germany including learning German, mountain excursions and contacts with local agents.

"But we see how the Federal Republic (united Germany) is developing and we are happy that we have good relations on a new basis," he said. "This of course makes any nostalgia secondary." As well as world leaders more than 100,000 ordinary citizens are expected to attend.

The Berlin Wall was erected during the night between August 12-13 of 1961 to divide the Berlin city as well as East Germany and West Germany. The wall is the symbol of so-call Iron Curtain for the Cold War.

On Nov. 9, 1989, East Germany announced the easing of border controls, and thousands stormed the Berlin Wall and demanded its opening. The Wall was toppled down soon afterwards, and Germany was reunified the next year.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies
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