German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington today to receive the highest U.S. civilian honor, the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, from President Barack Obama.
Merkel, who is the first East German and first woman to become chancellor of the unified Germany, is scheduled to receive a 19-gun salute during an official welcome to the White House.
After talks with Obama, the White House will host a formal dinner in her honor.
Merkel is the first European leader to receive such a welcome from Obama, who has extended similar honors only to the leaders of India, Mexico, and China.
U.S. officials say it is a sign of the close working relationship that Obama and Merkel have forged since Obama took office in January, 2009.
compiled from agency reports