Angela Merkel joined Russian President and his American counterpart in a solemn Paris ceremony lead by Emmanuel Macron. On Sunday, in his speech, French leader urged his fellow world leaders to come together for a joint “fight for peace”.
Dozens of other world leaders gathered on Sunday in Paris to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I in a sombre ceremony at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe war memorial on the Champs-Elysées marked the culmination of events for the 100th anniversary of the end of the four-year conflict which claimed 18 million lives. As Mr Macron said, the atrocities of WWI made the progressive leaders think about building hopes rather than playing fears against each other.
The French President began the ceremony by leading dozens of heads of state and government including Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau, on foot towards a viewing stand at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.
Vladimir Putin was one of the last to take his place among Paris ceremony, on the front row next to Brigitte Macron. Donald Trump shook hands with German Chancellor and other leaders placed next to him but pointedly did not extend a hand to the Canadian PM, whom he disparaged earlier this year as “dishonest and weak”.
Trump’s Saturday’s decision caused the harsh criticism
The rain added to the solemnity of the occasion, with Macron eschewing an umbrella as he remembered the suffering of those who fought in the so-called “war to end all wars” in a speech.
On Saturday, Trump cited the bad weather for his decision to cancel a visit to an American cemetery in northern France — a decision for which drew criticism.
Over 3,400 people, including veterans of the armed forces of France and its allies, were invited to the ceremony, which began with a rendition of the Marseillaise and a review by Macron of cadets from France’s military schools.
Cadets from West Point military academy in the US took part in the commemorations, alongside members of France’s Republican Guard resplendent in plumed hats and uniforms red epaulettes.