Trump to Attend WWI Centenary in Paris, as France Warns of Threats to Europe
U.S. President Donald Trump departs early Friday for his trip to France where he and dozens of other world leaders will mark the centenary of the Armistice, which brought an end to the fighting in World War I.
His trip comes as relations between the United States and many of its allies remain tense. French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the geopolitical climate is reminiscent of the buildup to the world wars.
Touring wartime battlefields in the east and north of France this week ahead of Sunday’s Armistice ceremonies, President Macron warned of ongoing threats to Europe, saying the continent must create its own army.
“We need to protect ourselves from China, from Russia and even the United States. When I see President Trump announcing a pullout from a big disarmament treaty that was taken in the middle of the 1980s in the middle of the missile crisis which had affected Europe, who is going to be the main victim? Europe and its security,” Macron told France’s Europe 1 radio station.
French officials said relations with the U.S. would be unaffected by President Trump’s Republican Party losing control of the House of Representatives in the recent midterm elections.
The U.S. president will hold talks with Macron Saturday. It’s not clear whether a rumored meeting between Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will go ahead.
Donald Trump will later visit Belleau Wood, scene of one of the most ferocious battles fought by U.S. troops in the war. More than 1,800 American soldiers were killed as they attacked German positions. Much of the fighting was hand-to-hand combat. After more than three weeks of fighting, American troops took Belleau Wood on June 26, 1918. Historian Jean-Michel Steg says the bravery of U.S. Marines is legendary.
By the end of the war, more than 116,000 American troops had died defending Europe. More than 14,000 are buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, the largest on the continent.
“Relations between these powers, they’re not always easy. And there are reasons for that. But when you get out here, where the people in these villages remember, there’s a great respect for the American soldier.”
The nearby "Romagne 14-18" museum depicts life for soldiers on the frontline using thousands of items recovered from the battlefields, most of them by founder Jean-Paul de Vries. His grandfather fought for four years on the front lines.
“What I try to show in this museum to the visitors is if you take off these helmets, it’s all the same. It's all human beings,” he told VOA.
Forty million people were killed on all sides during the conflict. They will be remembered Sunday at the Armistice Day ceremony at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, attended by dozens of world leaders.
President Trump will later take part in a separate Veteran’s Day ceremony at an American cemetery.
China to Give $150 million in Aid to El Salvador as Relationship Deepens
China will give El Salvador $150 million to spur development of social and technological projects, the Salvadoran president said on Wednesday, the latest sign of deepening ties between the countries that has alarmed the United States.
Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren is returning from his first trip to China since the countries established diplomatic ties in August. Speaking on local television, Ceren said he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the visit and agreed to 13 joint projects, without providing details.
The donation marks China's latest gambit to make inroads in Central America, a campaign that has drawn the ire of the United States. Earlier this year, El Salvador cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, following the Dominican Republic and Panama. The United States promptly recalled its ambassadors in the region.
"This historic meeting between the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of El Salvador has produced excellent results," Ceren said. "This confirms that the establishment of diplomatic relations with China is my government's most important decision in foreign policy."
Representatives for the Chinese government were not immediately available for comment.
The date when the funds will be received has not been set, a spokesman for the Salvadoran government said. China will also donate three thousand tons of rice to support Salvadorans who are reeling from a drought in July and floods in October, Ceren said.
The White House warned in August that China was luring countries with incentives that "facilitate economic dependence and domination, not partnership.” Self-ruled Taiwan has formal relations with a dwindling number of countries, almost all of them small and less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific.