The commemoration is the centrepiece of global tributes to honour the 10 million soldiers who were killed during the 1914-18 war and the moment the Armistice, signed in northeastern France, on November 11, 1918.

Heads of states and world leaders attend a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France, November 11, 2018.
Heads of states and world leaders attend a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France, November 11, 2018. (Reuters)

Some 70 world leaders gathered under rainy skies at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday for a solemn ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. 

US President Donald Trump, Russia President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of monarchs, presidents and prime ministers from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and beyond joined French President Emmanuel Macron to mark the moment guns fell silent across Europe a century ago.

Speaking at the ceremony, Macron urged world leaders marking a to come together for a joint “fight for peace”. 

“Let us build our hopes rather than playing our fears against each other,” he told leaders.

As Trump’s convoy was making its way up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, a bare-breasted protester from the Femen radical feminist group ran towards his motorcade, coming within a few metres, before being apprehended by police.

Photographs of the incident appeared to show that she had the words “fake peacemaker” scrawled across her body.

In a glass canopy at the foot of the triumphal arch, built by Emperor Napoleon in 1806, the leaders stood for the solemn ceremony. The last to arrive was Russia’s Putin, who shook hands with Macron, Merkel and then Trump, briefly giving the US leader a thumbs up.

Macron stood to attention as a military band played the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, before walking through the rain to inspect troops. He then took his place under the Arc while cellist Yo-Yo Ma played a movement from a Bach symphony.

TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood reports.

Weekend of tributes

In a rare public display of emotion by the leaders of two world powers, Macron and Merkel held hands on Saturday during a poignant ceremony in the Compiegne Forest, north of Paris, where French and German delegations signed the Armistice that ended the war.

The conflict was one of the bloodiest in history, reshaping Europe’s politics and demographics. Peace, however, was short-lived and two decades later Nazi Germany invaded its neighbours.

On Sunday afternoon, 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 in a statement 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.”

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah in Paris has more details on the forum.

Trump, who champions a nationalist ‘America first’ policy, will not attend the forum.

The US leader has said he will also not hold a bilateral meeting with Putin in Paris. Trump and Putin are expected to have formal talks later this month when both attend a G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election and any possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

German president in London 

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier became the first German leader to take part in Britain’s national service of remembrance on Sunday. 

He laid a wreath at the Cenotaph war memorial in central London alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, who chose not to join other world leaders marking the centenary of the Armistice in Paris. 

Across Britain, individuals and communities held two minutes silence 1100 GMT to remember the end of the four-year conflict which claimed 18 million lives. 

In London, the moment was marked by the chiming of Big Ben, which has been largely silent since renovation work began in August 2017 but which still sounds for important national events.

TRT World's Sarah Morice has more details from London.

Prince Charles laid the first wreath of red poppies, Britain’s emblem of remembrance, at the Cenotaph on behalf of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who watched from a nearby balcony.

Steinmeier followed with his wreath, in a unique and highly symbolic act marking the reconciliation between the once warring nations. 

Senior royals, diplomats, military leaders and politicians also paid their respects at the memorial to all British and Commonwealth service personnel who have died in combat since 1914. 

They were followed by the traditional march past by military veterans, their medals glinting in the sunshine, as a crowd of thousands looked on.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies