Languages
Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Shimon Peres visits Berlin amid tight security

By Tristana Moore
BBC News, Berlin

A German police armoured vehicle at the Pariser Platz in Berlin, 25 January 2010
Berliners have had to put up with traffic jams and road closures since Peres's arrival on Monday

It is a sign of the times that when the Israeli president makes a state visit these days, unprecedented security measures are put in place.

So ever since Shimon Peres arrived in the German capital on Monday, Berliners have had to put up with road closures and traffic jams in the centre of the city - these road-blocks will be in place until Thursday.

Berlin's Taggespiegel daily newspaper said Shimon Peres "was the most endangered political leader in the world after the US president".

On Tuesday morning, Grunewald train station in a leafy suburb of Berlin resembled a fortress as dozens of German and Israeli officers were deployed.

Across the city, 3,000 police officers are on duty.

Grunewald memorial

Mr Peres will be in Berlin for Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, which this year marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

On Tuesday, along with German President Horst Koehler and a delegation of Holocaust survivors and students, Mr Peres visited Grunewald station, which has become a poignant memorial to the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Shimon Peres, left, and Horst Koehler at the Track 17 memorial, 26 January 2010
The infamous Track 17 is now a poignant memorial to those who died

At a wreath-laying ceremony at the infamous Track 17, Mr Peres paid tribute to the 55,000 Berliner Jews who were forced from their homes and deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

It was from Grunewald station that thousands of Jews were sent to their deaths at the camps of Theresienstadt, Riga, and Lodz.

A plaque and a memorial mark the spot where Jews from Berlin were loaded onto trains from 1941 until 1945.

On Tuesday, a group of five Holocaust survivors lit candles at the site while Mr Peres and Mr Koehler lit the sixth candle, representing the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

Pressure increasing

Later in the day, Mr Peres held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel at her office in Berlin.

Shimon Peres and Angela Merkel in Berlin, 26 January 2010
The German chancellor used the visit to ramp up pressure on Iran

At a news conference, the German chancellor issued a pointed warning to Iran over its nuclear programme, saying Germany remained committed to a diplomatic solution, but Mrs Merkel said further sanctions would be considered as the next step.

"We have shown a lot of patience," she said. "Time is running out."

For his part, Shimon Peres said: "We need a clear and hard position against Iran."

And he urged the international community to "dismantle the threat to world peace which is being articulated in the Iranian regime".

With the Israeli president in town, the German government is ratcheting up the pressure on Tehran.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Merkel tells Knesset of 'shame'
18 Mar 08 |  Middle East
Israel upgrades ties with Germany
17 Mar 08 |  Middle East
Merkel urges Israel recognition
23 Feb 07 |  Europe
Germany renews pledge to Israel
02 Feb 05 |  Middle East

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific