Sarkozys war dead commemoration didnt exactly please Brits, Aussies and Germans

November 12th, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 12 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, arrived late to commemorate 1918 Armistice at the battlefield of Verdun, where more than 300,000 French and German soldiers were killed and more than one million wounded in 1916.

The French President and his wife were late by 10 minutes and kept other dignitaries waiting to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. But the silence came at 11.10am, after their helicopter brought them late to the hillside monument at the battlefield.

That was not the only hitch. Speaking outside the ossuary that contains the unidentified remains of 130,000 French and German soldiers, Sarkozy hailed Britains sacrifice in the Great War, The Times reported.

France will never forget the English, Scottish and Irish soldiers who fought on our soil as if it was their own, he said.

There was no mention of the Welsh, whose Prince, with the Duchess of Cornwall, was present, along with Quentin Bryce, the Australian Governor-General, for Sarkozys break with the tradition of Paris-based remembrance days.

Sarkozy hailed Australia, New Zealand and the United States but he irked the Australians by spelling Bryces name wrong in the programme.

Sarkozy wanted to use the 90th anniversary, the first with no surviving French Great War veteran, to salute the rebirth of Europe, following the example of the late President Mitterrand who in 1984 marked Franco-German reconciliation by holding hands with Helmut Kohl, then German Chancellor, at the spot.

However, Angela Merkel declined Sarkozys invitation and sent Peter Muller, the president of Germanys Upper House. This was said to reflect the low-key Chancellors exasperation with Frances ultra-dynamic leader. (ANI)

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