x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

World leaders gather in Paris a century after First World War armistice

Trump cancels trip to Belleau Wood battlefield and cemetery citing 'logistical difficulties' caused by rain

Commemorations are under way around the world to mark the moment 100 years ago when the slaughter of the First World War finally stopped.

France, the epicentre of the first global conflict, hosted the main international commemoration, pressing home the point that the world mustn't stumble into war again, as it did so quickly and catastrophically with the Second World War.

The commemoration's host, French President Emmanuel Macron, warned about the fragility of peace and the dangers of nationalism: a theme that seemed directed, at least in part, at United States President Donald Trump, who listened stony-faced.

"The traces of this war never went away," Mr Macron said.

"The old demons are rising again," he intoned. "We must reaffirm before our peoples our true and huge responsibility."

More than 60 world leaders gathered to honour the dead, lining up together at precisely 11am, a century after the ceasefire. They included those with the power to destroy humanity if it ever stumbles into the folly of a third world war.

The US and Russian presidents were joined by an array of leaders whose geographical spread showed how the "war to end all wars" left few corners of the globe untouched.

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lays a wreath, during the remembrance service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London. PA
Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lays a wreath, during the remembrance service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London. PA

In the United Kingdom, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German President laid a wreath at the Cenograph, a historic gesture of reconciliation.

Mr Stenmeier is the first German leader to lay a wreath at the Cenograph, the centre of British national remembrance.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump and his wife Melania cancelled a trip to Belleau Wood battlefield and cemetery in northern France, citing "scheduling and logistical difficulties" caused by the rainy weather.

Coming on the eve of Veteran's Day in the United States, the decision drew criticism on social media, where many noted that the rain had not stopped President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Angela Merkel or Canada's Justin Trudeau from paying their respects to the dead.

"They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn't even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen," Nicholas Soames, a British Conservative member of parliament and grandson of Winston Churchill tweeted.

Ceremonies have been held across the world this week in honour of the 18 million soldiers and civilians who perished in the First World War.

______________

Read more:

Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump in show of unity after row over Europe's defence

Armistice Day: Remembering Sandy Turnbull, the Manchester United great killed at the Battle of the Somme

Compiegne: the French town that saw the end of the First World War

My Uncle Jack died with his Pals at the Somme. It shattered and then galvanised Tyneside

Emmanuel Macron praises French general who collaborated with Nazis