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In France, Trump And Others Commemorate The End Of World War I

Nov 12, 2018
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump joined French President Emmanuel Macron and more than 70 other world leaders in France over the weekend. This was to mark a hundred years since the end of World War I. As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, President Trump seemed out of step with the very multilateral tone of the commemorations.

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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: As church bells rang out across Paris Sunday on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, as they did 100 years ago to end the war, world leaders walked up the Champs-Elysees together to take their place under the Arc de Triomphe. President Trump was not among them. He arrived separately for security reasons, and his motorcade was briefly detained by protesters.

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PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: As Macron spoke, Trump sat stony-faced, or one French newspaper put it, pouting and indifferent. Macron warned that nationalism is rising and called on the world to work together to build hopes rather than playing our fears against each other. Trump never seemed to hit his stride on the trip. It started with an angry tweet about Macron Friday, but the two leaders patched things up Saturday morning. Then Trump canceled his visit to the cemetery and battle site of Belleau Wood because of rain. Criticism on the Twittersphere was fierce.

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BEARDSLEY: It was the French-German couple who stole the show this weekend.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: President Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held hands as they unveiled a plaque to their countries' reconciliation and friendship at the railcar where the World War I armistice was signed. The two leaders whose countries were once bitter enemies seemed to have real affection for each other. Trump visited another cemetery on Sunday, still trying to make up for missing Belleau Wood.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Among those buried here are legendary Marines who fought in the battle of Belleau Wood. In that treacherous forest and the surrounding fields, American Marines soldiers and allied forces fought, and they fought through hell to turn the tide of the war. And that's what they did. They turned the tide of the war.

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CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (Speaking German).

BEARDSLEY: On the other side of Paris, Macron and Merkel kicked off a three-day peace forum. Merkel said close international cooperation with a common set of values is the only way to overcome the horrors of the past and build the future. Trump did not hear her comments. He had already left France. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.