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Germany

Germany in Brief

Former Deutsche Bank tower in New York to be pulled down; Conservative leaders aim to resolve differences over health reforms; World's largest traditional Bavarian dress and more.

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The former Deutsche Bank tower overlooking the World Trade Center site is to be pulled down

Former Deutsche Bank tower in New York to be pulled down

The haunting, former Deutsche Bank building known as the "widow" overlooking the World Trade Center site in New York is to be pulled down. The 40-storey skyscraper, decorated with a hunge American flag, has become one of the most recognisable symbols of the devastation wrought by terrorists in the attacks on New York on September 11, 2001. The building, which was erected in the 1970s, was badly damaged by the collapsing towers in the attacks. Residents and businesses in the area have been pressing officials to decide on the future of the tower, which was also badly infested by mould, for months. The building, described recently by New York governor George Pataki as "an ever present reminder of the darkest moment in our past", is now to be torn down. It earned its morbid nickname from the shroud of black netting with which the facade has been covered to prevent debris from falling on and injuring pedestrians.

Conservative leaders aim to resolve differences over health reforms

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the leader of the conservative opposition, Angela Merkel, have agreed to hold talks aimed at reaching a compromise on reforming the health-care sector. The meeting is to be arranged once the opposition CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, have settled their own internal differences over the issue. First compromises between the two conservative parties were made at a party meeting on Saturday. But former health minister and deputy parliamentary party leader Horst Seehofer of the CSU still refuses to back Merkel's plans to introduce extra charges for patients who need dental prosthetics. Both Merkel and Seehofer have agreed to further talks in an attempt to resolve their differences over the issue in a meeting on Sunday evening.

Increase in human trafficking

Human trafficking is on the rise in Germany. According to the newspaper Welt am Sonntag which refers to latest statistics from the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, the number of cases of illegal immigrants smuggled over Germany's borders has increased by around 11 percent from 746 in 2001 to 827 cases this year. Around half of the suspects were foreigners, the majority of which came from Turkey (22.9 percent), followed by Bulgaria and Lithuania with 12.6 percent respectively. 3.9 percent originated from ex-Yugoslavia, Russia and Rumania. Relief organizations have estimated that in Europe between 200 000 and 500 000 people are smuggled illegally per year across European borders, the majority of which are women.

World's largest traditional Bavarian dress

Oktoberfest

A South German tailor presented the world's largest Dirndl, or traditional Bavarian dress to the public on Saturday. The dress is 4, 70 meters long and took more than 250 hours to make. 73 meters of cloth were needed for the dress, alone 18 meters of velvet for one decorative ribbon. The dress, which is worth € 10 000 is now destined for a listing in the famous Guinness Book of Records. Compiled with material from wire services.