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Trump headed to Paris for WWI events, but will skip peace forum

By
Clyde Hughes and Nicholas Sakelaris
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump leave the White House Friday for a trip to Paris, France. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump leave the White House Friday for a trip to Paris, France. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump heads for France Friday to participate in events marking the centennial of the end World War I, but won't meet with leaders in a peace forum there.

The White House said the president and first lady Melania Trump, instead, will take part in a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to talk about security and economic trade.

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"The president and first lady will also visit several memorial sites to pay tribute to the American service members who sacrificed everything to protect our cherished freedoms," the White House said.

"The visit will highlight the enduring relationship between the United States and France, and emphasize the important role of the United States in ensuring security in Europe and around the world."

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The weekend ceremony includes a parade, a dinner with world leaders Saturday night and a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe Sunday. Macron will speak at the French Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, NBC News reported.

The president will include a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Northern France and is anticipated to make remarks Sunday at Suresnes American Cemetery.

What the U.S. president won't do on his trip to France is also noteworthy. He won't attend the Paris Peace Forum -- which Macron set up to reflect on the causes of World War I and discuss how to prevent widespread war in the 21st Century. Also, Trump will not have a formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Trump and Putin had initially hoped to meet at the event but decided against it after concerns that it could overshadow the ceremonies. The two leaders, who met for a summit in Finland in July, will instead meet at the G20 summit in Argentina later this year.

"It would be odd for Trump and [national security adviser] John Bolton to show up at a forum for global governance," Thomas Wright, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, told The Guardian.

"Normally you would want the president of the U.S. at an occasion like this, but Trump would really be the skunk at the picnic. His view of multilateral cooperation is that it damages sovereignty."

Trump had planned to stage a large-scale military parade in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day to honor U.S. servicemen and women, but cost estimates for the gala kept rising -- up to $92 million. As a result, Trump postponed it until next year and opted to go to Paris instead.

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