US President Donald Trump, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and dozens of other world leaders joined France’s Emmanuel Macron in commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I in a solemn ceremony in Paris on Sunday.
Putin shook hands on arrival with Trump, and Trump also shook hands with Merkel and some of the other leaders placed next to him but pointedly did not extend a hand to Trudeau, whom he disparaged earlier this year as “dishonest and weak.
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.
French-born Chinese American cellist Yo-Yo Ma played a Sarabande from Bach’s 5th cello suite and schoolchildren read accounts of soldiers from eight countries who served in the war, in their native language.
There were also tributes to troops from African countries, with Beninese star Angelique Kidjo performing a song to lives lost on behalf of the former colonial power.
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.
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Later on Sunday, Macron will host the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, which seeks to promote a multilateral approach to security and governance and ultimately avoid the errors that led to the outbreak of World War One.
Merkel said the forum showed that “today there is a will, and I say this on behalf of Germany with full conviction, to do everything to bring a more peaceful order to the world, even though we know we still have much work to do.”
Trump, who champions a nationalist ‘America first’ policy, will not attend the forum but Putin is expected to do so.