Trump, world leaders to mark World War I centenary in Paris.
Scheduled to visit Paris, mark event with European leaders
President Trump departs for Paris on Friday to attend weekend ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.
In his first major trip since Tuesday’s midterm elections, Mr. Trump will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday for discussions on trade, security and other topics before visiting the Belleau Wood battlefield and its adjacent Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial. On Sunday, Mr. Trump will attend an Armistice Day ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with other world leaders.
“This is an historic opportunity to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedom in that struggle,” said a senior administration official.
Among the estimated 70 heads of state coming to Paris will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Mr. Trump isn’t expected to meet with him until the G-20 summit later this month in Argentina.
“That’s where we’re actually looking forward to meet,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday.
There appeared to be a few mixed messages about the Paris gathering, which French officials are trying to keep heavily focused on the solemnity of the occasion. The Kremlin on Wednesday said Mr. Putin was expected to speak at least briefly with Mr. Trump during Sunday’s lunch.
And the Agence France-Presse news service reported this week that U.S. officials have told the French government that Mr. Trump will skip a conference of leaders Mr. Macron plans over the weekend to discuss democracy and multilateralism. Along with Mr. Putin, leaders such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be attending.
The armistice ceremony marks the surrender of Germany to the allies, with the fighting ceasing at the 11th hour on the 11th day of November 1918. The dead included more than 2,700 combatants who were killed on the final day of the war.
More than 116,000 Americans died in the war, which the U.S. entered in 1917, three years after it began. Another 200,000 U.S. troops were wounded.
Worldwide, an estimated 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died during four years of conflict.
The Battle of Belleau Wood, in northern France, is generally recognized as the event from which the modern U.S. Marine Corps emerged. From June 6 to June 15, 1918, German forces counterattacked the Marines nine times, including mustard gas attacks. But by June 26, all of the Germans had been driven from the battlefield.
In about three weeks of fighting, the Marines’ 4th Brigade suffered about 4,000 casualties, including about 1,000 killed — more than half of the brigade’s original strength. It was the most casualties sustained by any U.S. brigade in the war.
In gratitude, the French Army renamed Belleau Wood “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” — Wood of the Marine Brigade.
The senior administration official said Mr. Trump’s visit will “serve as a reminder of the important role that the United States has played and continues to play in ensuring peace and security in Europe.”
“As we reflect on the horrors of the first World War, including the use of chemical weapons, these events also serve as a timely reminder of the enduring needs to defend against the use of chemical weapons even today,” the official said.
In this photo from World War I, U.S. troops of the 107th Regiment Infantry, 27th Division, advance on a path through a barbed wire entanglement near Beauqueanes, Somme, France. Sunday marks 100 years since the end of the war.