Israeli president arrives in Germany for Holocaust memorial

09:27, January 26, 2010      

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Israeli President Shimon Peres arrived in Berlin on Monday for a three-day memorial of the Holocaust, in which he would receive a high-level reception and give a landmark speech to the German parliament.

Peres got off his plane with a long, black coat against the freezing temperature, reviewed the guard of honor and was received a 21-gun salute.

"The trip marks the completion of a personal circle for the president, whose own grandparents and uncle were burned alive in the Vishneva synagogue, Belarus," the president's spokeswoman Ayelet Frish said. Several Germany-born Holocaust survivors were also in the delegation.

Peres' visit is to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the date on which in 1945 the Auschwitz death camp in Poland was liberated by Soviet soldiers.

He will address the German Parliament on the memorial day, as the first Israeli president who gives a speech at the Bundestag since German reunification in 1990.

In the speech, Peres is to mourn 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, talk about Israeli-German relationship after the war, and to present his own vision and hope for the future of the two countries, as well as the Middle East, his office said.

Before the speech, Peres is to attend a reception hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel and walk through the Brandenburg Gate. He would also hold talks with German President Horst Koehler and Merkel.

The Israeli president, whose political career stretched over almost the entire history of Israel, is to receive the Walther Rathenau Prize, annually awarded to people with outstanding lifetime achievement in foreign affairs.

The award is named after a German-Jewish foreign minister during the period of the Weimar Republic, who was murdered in 1922 by extremists.

One week earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Berlin for a joint cabinet meeting, which discussed the Middle East peace process and the Iranian nuclear program.

Source: Xinhua
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