EU planning grand ceremony to honour visionary Kohl

Helmut Kohl with the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London in 1983

Helmut Kohl with the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London in 1983NILS JORGENSEN REX SHUTTERSTOCK

"Chancellor Helmut Kohl skillfully presided over the historic task of German reunification, and ensured that Germany was always a champion of European unity and the transatlantic alliance", said AJC CEO David Harris, who met with Kohl a number of times in Bonn, then Germany's capital.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday sent messages to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel, respectively, expressing his condolences over the death of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Kohl died on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the age of 87.

Jean-Claude Juncker told Sunday's Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he will personally push for a "European act of state" for Kohl, who was chancellor from 1982 to 1998, but didn't give details.

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Born on April 3, 1930 into a conservative, Catholic family, Kohl joined the CDU after the Second World War but remained focussed on party affairs in his home state of Rhineland-Palatinate, whose Minister-President he was elected in 1969 - becoming the youngest to hold such a post.

Chancellor Kohl was a friend to the United States during a transformative period for Germany and Europe as a whole. "My mentor, my friend, the very essence of Europe, he will be greatly, greatly missed", he said.

Kohl, along with former European Commission chief Jacques Delors and Jean Monnet, founding father of the European project, are the only three people the EU has made Honorary Citizens of Europe, an honour bestowed for extraordinary work to promote European cooperation.

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