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Obama awards Merkel Washington's highest civilian honor

Washington has bestowed America's highest civilian honor on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. US President Barack Obama paid tribute to Merkel's accomplishments and called her one of his closest allies.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

Merkel will pick up the medal on a future White House visit

US President Barack Obama has awarded Chancellor Angela Merkel America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praising her as a "trusted friend."

Although Merkel was not present to receive the award personally on Tuesday, Obama paid tribute to her achievement in becoming the first former East German, and the first woman, to become chancellor.

"Growing up in communist East Germany, Angela Merkel dreamed of freedom," said Obama. "And when the Wall finally crumbled and Germany was reunited, she broke barriers of her own."

"To America, Chancellor Merkel and the country she leads are among our closest allies. To me, she's a trusted global partner and a friend."

Medal honors 'exceptional contributions'

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Obama praised Merkel, saying she had broken barriers

The medal is awarded to individuals considered to have made "exceptional contributions" to the interests of the United States, world peace, or to cultural or other significant endeavors.

Merkel, who was in Bratislava at a meeting of prime ministers from the Visegrad Group of Central European states, is to pick up the award on her next visit to Washington.

Among the 14 other recipients of this year's awards, collectively praised as "some of the world's most extraordinary people" by Obama, were former US president George Bush (senior), Polish-born Holocaust survivor and author Gerda Weissmann Klein and billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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