Trump joins world leaders to mark end of WWI
Paris – President Donald Trump, a leader who has proudly declared himself a “nationalist” and advocated an “America First” approach, joined dozens of other world leaders Sunday at a ceremony focused on international cooperation to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
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.
The president and first lady Melania Trump traveled separately from most of the other presidents and dignitaries attending the event, who had gathered earlier at the Elysee Palace and traveled 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.
The leaders arrived a few minutes late, missing the exact moment – 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 – that four years of fighting ended. As bells marking the armistice hour started ringing out across Paris, Macron and other leaders were still on their way to the centennial site at the Arc de Triomphe.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited security protocols for the presidential motorcade’s solo trip down the grand Champs-Élysées to the arc, 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, including the words “Fake” and “Peace,” written on her chest.
Police tackled the woman 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 repeatedly 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.
Last week at a news conference, Trump said: “You have nationalists. You have globalists. I also love the world and I don’t mind helping the world, but we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems.”
Sitting several seats away was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived at the ceremony separately as well. Putin shook Trump’s hand, flashed him a thumbs-up sign and patted Trump’s arm. The president 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 Sunday was to visit 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 criticized for failing to visit a different American cemetery about 60 miles (100 kilometers) outside of Paris Saturday. Rain grounded the helicopter Trump had planned to take, so he canceled the trip.
Associated Press writers Lori Hinnant contributed to this report.
For more information on World War I, go to The Associated Press’ WWI hub: https://www.apnews.com/WorldWarI
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