By Agence France-Presse
World leaders gathered in the driving rain in Paris on Sunday to mark 100 years since the end of World War I, with host Emmanuel Macron warning against nationalism at a time of growing strain between Europe and Donald Trump’s America.
Around 70 leaders including US President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin marked the centenary of the 1918 Armistice in the French capital at 11am local time (1000 GMT).
After church bells rang out across France, the leaders sat together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe for a memorial that included a performance by star cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the reading aloud of letters by WWI soldiers.
Macron delivered a 20-minute speech that called on his fellow leaders not to forget the lessons of the past and worldwide hopes for peace.
“Ruining this hope with a fascination for isolation, violence or domination would be a mistake for which future generations would rightly find us responsible,” Macron told them.
He also delivered a stinging indictment of nationalism, calling it “the exact opposite” of the patriotism shown by soldiers.
“Nationalism is a betrayal,” he said.
“By saying our interests come first and others don’t matter we are erasing what makes a nation precious, what makes it live, what makes it great and most importantly of all, its moral values,” he said, watched by Trump, who prides himself on being called a nationalist.
The service concluded with the bugle call that was played at 11am on November 11, 1918 to signal the end of fighting on the Western Front.
Elsewhere, ceremonies in New Zealand, Australia, India, Hong Kong and Myanmar began a day of remembrance services around the world for a conflict that involved millions of troops from colonised countries in Asia and Africa.
The leaders of Commonwealth nations — whose forces were deployed under British command 100 years ago — also delivered messages of peace.
“This was a war in which India was not directly involved yet our soldiers fought world over, just for the cause of peace,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
“For our tomorrows, they gave their today,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people gathered at a ceremony in Canberra.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Charles, standing in for Queen Elizabeth, attended a separate remembrance event in London where thousands of well-wishers also paid their respects to fallen soldiers.