Trump joins world leaders to mark 100 years since end of WWI

2018-11-11 13:03
President Donald Trump. (Getty)

President Donald Trump. (Getty) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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President Donald Trump joined dozens of world leaders on Sunday in Paris to the mark 100 years since the moment World War I drew to an end.

Trump was among more than 66 leaders gathered on a rainy day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the Arc de Triomphe a century after guns fell silent in a global war that killed millions. Bells tolled across Europe's Western Front and fighter jets passed overhead to mark the exact moment the devastating war came to a close.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump travelled separately from most of the other presidents and dignitaries attending the event, who had gathered earlier at the Elysee Palace and travelled to the ceremony by bus. And Trump was not present as the other leaders arrived, walking side-by-side in a somber, rain-soaked line holding black umbrellas as bells finished tolling. They had arrived a few minutes late, missing the exact moment — 11:00 on November 11, 1918 — that four years of fighting ended.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited security protocols for the presidential motorcade's solo trip down the grand Champs-Élysées, which was closed to traffic. But at least one topless woman breached tight security, running into the street and shouting "fake peace maker" as the cars passed. She had slogans, included the words "Fake" and "Peace," written on her chest.

Police tackled the women and the motorcade continued uninterrupted. The feminist activist group Femen later claimed responsibility.

The ceremony included a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron aimed directly at the rising tide of populism in the United States and Europe.

With Trump and other leaders looking on, Macron warned against the dangers of nationalism and said the "ancient demons" that caused World War I and millions of deaths are growing stronger.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," he said, adding that, when nations put their interests first and decide "who cares about the others" they "erase the most precious thing a nation can have... Its moral values."

Trump, who has proudly declared himself a nationalist, sat mostly stone-faced as he listened to Macron, who sees himself as Europe's foil to the rising sentiment, which has taken hold in Hungary and Poland among other countries.

Sitting several seats away was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who greeted Trump when he arrived, shaking Trump's hand, flashing him a thumbs-up sign and patted Trump's arm. Trump had been expected to meet with Putin during the visit, but will instead sit down with him formally later this month at a world leaders' summit in Buenos Aires. The two could wind up chatting at a lunch Macron was hosting for world leaders following Sunday's ceremony.

France was the epicenter of the first global conflict. Its role as host of the main international commemoration highlighted the point that the world mustn't stumble into war again, as it did so quickly and catastrophically with World War II.

Trump later on Sunday will be paying a visit to the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in the suburbs of Paris, where he will deliver Veterans Day remarks before returning to Washington. More than 1 500 Americans who died during the war are buried there.

Trump has been criticised for failing to visit a different American cemetery about 100 kilometers outside of Paris on Saturday. Rain grounded the helicopter Trump had planned to take, so he cancelled the trip.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  emmanuel ­macron  |  paris  |  france  |  world war 1
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