World leaders mark 100 years since WWI Armistice in Paris

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French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a ceremony in Compiegne, north of Paris, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (AP)
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French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel lay a wreath of flowers during a ceremony in Compiegne, north of Paris, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2018

World leaders mark 100 years since WWI Armistice in Paris

  • The conflict was one of the bloodiest in history, reshaping Europe’s politics and demographics

PARIS: World leaders gathered in Paris will lead global commemorations on Sunday to mark 100 years since the end of World War I at a time of growing nationalism and diplomatic tensions.
Around 70 leaders including US and Russian Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice in the French capital.
Ceremonies in New Zealand and Australia marked the start of the November 11 memorial events across the world, and huge crowds paid tribute to the more than 80,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in the Great War.
“For our tomorrows, they gave their today,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people gathered at the Remembrance Day national ceremony in Canberra.
The Paris commemorations, centered on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, are set to feature warnings about the modern-day danger of nationalism.
“This day is not just about remembering, but should be about a call to action,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday after visiting the forest clearing in eastern France where the Armistice was signed.
Merkel will give the opening address alongside UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at a conference called the Paris Peace Forum which will take place after a memorial service on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday morning.
Conceived by French President Emmanuel Macron, the Forum is intended to highlight the importance of international institutions in helping resolve conflicts, avert wars and spread prosperity.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth will attend a separate event in London.

Despite the show of unity at the Arc de Triomphe, where school children will read out messages written by soldiers in eight languages, tensions are expected to lurk beneath the surface.
US President Donald Trump, whose hard-line nationalism has badly shaken the Western alliance, arrived in Paris on Friday criticizing host Macron for being “insulting.”
Trump took umbrage at a recent interview in which Macron talked about the need for a European army and listed the US along with Russia and China as a threat to national security.
The “America First” leader, who faced criticism on Saturday for canceling a trip to an American cemetery because of the rainy weather, will snub the Paris Peace Forum.
Other attendees of the memorial service and Forum include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau and Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu, as well as Putin.
With far-right nationalist politicians coming to power from Brazil to Italy to Austria, 40-year-old centrist Macron is set to invoke the war to make the case for international cooperation.
“We want to make these commemorations a time to reflect on the present, not just the past, so that they have a meaning for us today,” an aide to Macron said earlier this week.
He will deliver a short speech during Sunday’s ceremony, which organizers have made deliberately international and cross-cultural.
The French-born Chinese-American cellist Yo-yo Ma will perform, as will West African singer Angelique Kidjo, and a European youth orchestra with a Russian conductor.
Some 10,000 police have been drafted in to ensure maximum security in a city repeatedly targeted by jihadists since 2015.
Macron is also set to speak later at UN cultural body UNESCO and at the Peace Forum.
The Forum is part of the “fightback” against nationalism worldwide, chief organizer Justin Vaisse told AFP as he played down the significance of Trump’s decision not to attend.
“The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the international system — states, NGOs, foundations, intellectuals, companies — who believe we need a world of rules, an open world and a multilateral world,” he said.

About 70 current-day nations were involved in the conflict that had six empires and colonial powers at its heart: Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Around 10 million soldiers are generally estimated to have been killed during the fighting and more than double that number wounded overall.
Between five and 10 million civilians are estimated to have been killed.
In Britain, church bells are set to ring out across the country at 11 am, at the same time as a national remembrance service at the Cenotaph in London.
 


India: No extension of 21-day coronavirus lockdown

Updated 6 min 15 sec ago

India: No extension of 21-day coronavirus lockdown

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country’s 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15
  • India has 1,071 cases of the coronavirus of whom 29 have died, the health ministry said on Monday

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: India has no plans to extend a 21-day lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the government said on Monday, as it struggled to keep essential supplies flowing and prevent tens of thousands of out-of-work people fleeing to the countryside.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country’s 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15 saying that was the only hope to stop the epidemic. But the order has left millions of impoverished Indians jobless and hungry.
Defying the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of workers who live on daily wages left big cities like Delhi and Mumbai on foot for their homes in the countryside, many with families. They said they had no food or money.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba told Reuters partner, ANI, that there was no plan to extend the shutdown beyond the three weeks, rejecting reports that a prolonged closure was likely.
India has 1,071 cases of the coronavirus of whom 29 have died, the health ministry said on Monday. The numbers are small compared with the United States, Italy and China, but health officials say India is weeks away from a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system.
Neighboring Nepal, however, announced it would extend its shutdown for another week beginning on Tuesday. The landlocked country has had only five cases of the virus and no deaths, but it is concerned the virus will spread as people start traveling.
“If the lockdown is not extended then the movement of people increases raising the risk of more virus cases,” said Surya Thapa, an aide to Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli.
A major concern in India is that the hundreds of thousands of workers going homes will spread the virus deep into the hinterland, said a top health official.
“It’s an evolving situation with daily new challenges coming up like having migratory populations moving from one place to another. Like non-affected states, adjoining affected states,” said Dr. S.K. Singh, director of the National Center for Disease Control, which investigates and recommends control measures for outbreaks.
The government on Sunday ordered authorities in states to stop the migrant workers from moving and to set up shelters on highways where stranded people can get access to food and water until the lockdown is lifted.