Trump, Putin absent for leaders´ symbolic walk in Paris rain

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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.

Trump's arrival wasn't as smooth as expected, as it was disrupted by a topless protester who ran towards the US President's motorcade as it was approaching the Arc de Triomphe. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values'.

The commemoration is the centrepiece of global tributes to honour those who perished during the 1914-18 war and to commemorate the signing of the Armistice that brought the fighting to an end at 11 a.m. on Nov 11, 1918.

President Trump took umbrage at a recent interview in which President Macron talked about the need for a European army and cited the USA, along with Russian Federation and China, as potential security risks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was positioned in pride of place between Trump and Macron, an eloquent symbol of victors and vanquished now standing together, shoulder to shoulder.

U.S. Army Capt. Charles Normington wrote that "each soldier had his arms full of French girls, some crying, others laughing; each girl had to kiss every soldier before she would let him pass".

Trump wrote: "President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russian Federation".

The past year's "bromance" between the French and American leaders seems history now, as their relations slide downhill over Trump's withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and his tariff war against Europe.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were both late for the ceremony on Saturday but were visibly glad to see each other when they finally arrived.

Trump and Putin shook hands with members, now assembled on risers a the foot of the monument, and took their own positions. Netanyahu will not meet with Putin, despite his repeated efforts to schedule such a meeting.

Russian state news agencies reported a brief exchange between Trump and Putin at Sunday's armistice centenary ceremonies in Paris.

Expectations have been growing for a new Trump-Putin meeting as tensions pile up over the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and USA sanctions against Moscow.

Publicly, the Kremlin has played down the possible absence of a sit-down with Trump, saying the two leaders will have time for talks in a few weeks at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires. There has not yet been a reply from the White House to Macron's statements. "We renew our sacred obligation to memorialize our fallen heroes" at the cemetery, "where they rest for all eternity", he said.

The Veterans Day speech came a day after Trump was criticized for failing to visit a different American cemetery about 60 miles (100 kilometers) outside of Paris on Saturday because rain grounded the helicopter he had planned to take.

The relationship between Trump and Macron has soured as the US President has promoted an "America First" foreign policy that has unsettled allies on trade and defence.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Paris Peace Forum as part of the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018.

Some former US officials suggested Trump could have visited the cemetery if he really desired.

Police tackled the women and the motorcade continued uninterrupted.

The earlier show of unity at the Arc de Triomphe comes at a time of growing tensions between liberals and populists in the European Union, as well as between Europe and the United States, two years into Trump's "America First" presidency.