D-Day at 75: Macron tells Trump to embrace 'universal values' on anniversary of Normandy landings

French and US presidents hold talks following ceremony near Omaha Beach

Jon Sharman,Adam Forrest
Thursday 06 June 2019 22:42 BST
What is D-Day?

French president Emmanuel Macron appealed to Donald Trump to embrace “universal values” as he joined the US president at a D-Day memorial service near Omaha Beach for American personnel who died in France.

The commemoration was an occasion for the two nations to showcase their friendship, but Mr Macron and Mr Trump were forced to acknowledge their differences on key issues when they met on Thursday.

Speaking at the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the French president told his US counterpart “your country is never so great as when it fights for universal values”.

Praising international institutions, he added: “We shall never cease to perpetuate the alliance of free peoples. That is what the victorious sides did, when they created the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. That is what the leaders of Europe did in bringing about the European Union.”

Mr Trump praised Mr Macron’s speech – and they even briefly hugged. The pair appeared more tense, however, as they started their one-on-one meeting later.

Bilateral talks in Caen lasted for about two hours this afternoon, with Mr Macron and Mr Trump discussing major issues, including Iran, world trade and climate change.

The meeting was “positive,” a top official in Mr Macron’s office said after Trump left. He noted that being able to have long talks on dividing issues shows that “there’s mutual trust”.

Mr Trump played down differences with France over Iran, telling Mr Macron that they both agree Tehran should not have nuclear weapons, according to the French official. He reportedly reiterated his offer to reopen negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Emmanuel Macron in Caen
Donald Trump shakes hands with Emmanuel Macron in Caen (AP)

On Gold Beach, one of two British landing sites, a lone piper played at 6.26am, the precise moment, 75 years on, that UK soldiers came ashore to launch the invasion.

Theresa May and Mr Macron attended a ceremony in Ver-sur-Mer, where a memorial to British troops is being created.

Ms May said: “It’s incredibly moving to be here today, looking out over the beaches where one of the greatest battles for freedom this world has ever known took place.

“And it is truly humbling to do so with the men who were there that day. ”It’s an honour for all of us to share this moment with you.”

A sculpture of three soldiers created by David Williams-Ellis was unveiled marking the beginning of construction for the memorial, which will bear the names of the 22,442 British armed services members who died in the battle for Normandy.

Ms May later joined Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Nicola Sturgeon at a service in Bayeux and a further service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in the town. Some 300 veterans of Operation Overlord also visited Arromanches for a service in the afternoon.

Tobias Ellwood, the minister for defence people and veterans, and the chief of Ministry of Defence general staff, Mark Carleton-Smith, attended ahead of a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display.

Across the Channel, a service of remembrance and wreath laying took place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

In Portsmouth, following Mr Trump’s visit on Wednesday, a veterans' parade was scheduled before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone.

Additional reporting by agencies

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