World leaders mark WW1 Armistice centenary in Paris

11 November 2018 - 15:04 By Reuters
French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife princess Charlene (R) at the Elysee Palace as part of the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris on Sunday.
French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife princess Charlene (R) at the Elysee Palace as part of the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris on Sunday.
Image: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Some 70 world leaders gathered under rainy skies at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday for a solemn ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, US president Donald Trump, Russian president Vladimir Putin and dozens of monarchs, presidents and prime ministers from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and beyond joined French president Emmanuel Macron to mark the moment guns fell silent across Europe a century ago.

The commemoration is the centrepiece of global tributes to honour the 10m soldiers who were killed during the 1914-18 war and the moment the Armistice, signed in northeastern France, came into effect at 11am on November 11 1918.

As Trump's convoy was making its way up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, a bare-breasted protester from the Femen radical feminist group ran towards his motorcade, coming within a few metres, before being apprehended by police.

In a glass canopy at the foot of the triumphal arch built by emperor Napoleon in 1806, the leaders stood for the solemn ceremony. The last to arrive was Russia's Putin, who shook hands with Macron, Merkel and then Trump, briefly giving the US leader a thumbs up.

Macron stood to attention as a military band played the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, before walking through the rain to inspect troops. He then took his place under the Arc while cellist Yo-Yo Ma played a movement from a Bach symphony.

In a rare public display of emotion by the leaders of two world powers, Macron and Merkel held hands on Saturday during a poignant ceremony in the Compiègne Forest, north of Paris, where French and German delegations signed the Armistice that ended the war.

The conflict was one of the bloodiest in history, reshaping Europe's politics and demographics. Peace, however, was short-lived and two decades later Nazi Germany invaded its neighbours.

Trump has said he will also not hold a bilateral meeting with Putin in Paris. Trump and Putin are expected to have formal talks later this month when both attend a G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election and any possible collusion with Trump's campaign. 

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