Berlin - A bomb threat in Germany forced the evacuation of a luxury hotel during a 70th birthday party for former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, media reports said on Tuesday.

Police late on Monday searched the venue, the Kronberg Castle hotel and golf resort near Frankfurt, with sniffer dogs after a phone call threatening a “harmful incident” at around 17h30 GMT, they said.

Spiegel Online and other media said it was a bomb threat.

Social Democrat Schroeder sparked controversy recently for defending his confidant, Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid the Ukraine crisis and publicly embracing him late last month at an earlier birthday party for Schroeder in the Russian strongman's hometown of St Petersburg.

Among the invited guests at the latest party, hosted by a banking group, were Russian ambassador Vladimir Grinin and business leaders including Deutsche Bank co-chief Juergen Fitschen, reports said.

The guests were taken by shuttle bus to another venue, but were allowed to return after police gave the all-clear at 21h20 GMT, police told reporters. - AFP