Wednesday, 17 July, 2019

Trump ditched cemetery visit to avoid causing Paris traffic jams, says Sanders

The US flag flutters at half mast prior to a ceremony at the Aisne Marne American cemetery and memorial in Belleau FRANCOIS MORI APThe US flag flutters at half mast prior to a ceremony at the Aisne Marne American cemetery and memorial in Belleau
Patty Aguilar | 12 November, 2018, 16:56

President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for USA soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.

For reasons apparently related to the weather Trump on Saturday canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 55 miles east of Paris.

The visit was planned for the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France - where US war dead were being honored - because of rain.

Attending the cemetery event in Trump's place were the White House chief of staff, retired Marine General John Kelly; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joe Dunford; and several staff members.

The speech ended an awkward chapter in his relationship with the host nation's president that began when Trump blasted him on Twitter as he arrived at Orly airport late on Friday.

The Secret Service determines when it's safe to fly Marine One, the president's helicopter. Paris was covered in clouds with drizzling rain through most of Saturday.

Meantime, world leaders walked together in a show of unity to the Arc de Triomphe, the site of the solemn ceremony.

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US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, his wife Brigitte Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin and other heads of state and government during the commemoration ceremony of the 100th anniversary since the end of The First World War.

The cancellation of Saturday's visit drew criticism from those who say the president should have found a way to travel to Aisne-Marne regardless of the weather.

Tweeting after his arrival, the President wrote: "I am in Paris getting ready to celebrate the end of World War One".

Trump's remarks followed those of French President Emmanuel Macron, who used a ceremony in central Paris earlier in the day commemorating the 1918 Armistice to attack growing nationalist movements, calling them the "betrayal of patriotism".

White House officials said the decision was taken due to the weather and cited security concerns in hastily arranging a motorcade.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended his own ceremony to pay tribute to Canadian troops killed at Vimy Ridge, on the battlefields of northeastern France.

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