Tue, 11 Dec 2018
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Centenary of the 1918 Armistice marked across the world

By Sheetal Sukhija, Tajikistan News
12 Nov 2018, 05:30 GMT+10

PARIS, France - Several leaders from across the world descended on the French capital on Sunday, to mark 100 years since the end of World War I.

On Sunday, around 70 leaders marked a hundred years since the end of one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

At 11 am local time (1000 GMT), world leaders led by the French President Emmanuel Macron gathered at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - a memorial to France's fallen under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to solemnly commemorate the centenary of the 1918 Armistice.

Despite the heavy rains, around 70 leaders including the U.S. President Donald Trump, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the remembrance event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The memorial event began at the Arc de Triomphe in the French capital after church bells rang out across the country marking the exact moment that the guns fell silent across Europe 100 years back.

The event featured a performance by star cellist Yo-Yo Ma, after which letters by WWI soldiers were read out aloud.

Addressing the gathering in Paris and the rest of the world, the French President then delivered a speech, in which he issued a stark warning against nationalism.

In his speech, Macron called on his fellow leaders not to give up on worldwide hopes for peace and warned against forgetting the lessons of the past.

The French President said, "Ruining this hope with a fascination for isolation, violence or domination would be a mistake for which future generations would rightly find us responsible."

At a time when ties between Europe and its key ally are growing increasingly strained owing largely due to Trump's inward looking policies - Macron used his commemoration speech to issue a stinging criticism of nationalism.

The French President said that nationalism was "the exact opposite" of the patriotism shown by soldiers and explicitly declared, "Nationalism is a betrayal."

He said, "By saying our interests come first and others don't matter we are erasing what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values."

Macron acknowledged, "I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death. History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again."

However, the French leader urged, "We must reaffirm before our peoples our true and huge responsibility."

'Astonishing' lapse as a leader

Meanwhile, after arriving in Paris on Saturday, the U.S. President stirred controversy after he cancelled his first activity in the weekends remembrance events.

Blaming the bad weather, Trump scrapped his Remembrance Day visit to the WW1 U.S. military cemetery - the solemn Aisne Marne American Cemetery, marking the ferocious Battle of Belleau Wood.

However, his decision and the reason led to an immediate backlash and drew more criticism after several other world leaders were seen braving the rain to pay their respects at other sites across Paris.

Amid a growing uproar over Trump's cancellation, the White House announced that "bad weather" had created "logistical difficulties" forcing the cancellation of the visit.

The White House said that on behalf of the President, the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford paid their respects to the war dead at the cemetery.

Meanwhile, Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel inspected troops from a joint Franco-German Brigade on Saturday.

The two leaders then unveiled a plaque paying tribute to the reconciliation and renewed friendship between the world war foes.

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