France

French rivals Sarkozy and Hollande side by side for VE day ceremony

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

Less than a week after a bitter televised debate, France’s new socialist president Francois Hollande stood shoulder-to-shoulder with outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris to mark the end of the WWII. 

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Hollande attended the ceremony at Sarkozy’s invitiation – a rare gesture that has not been seen since 1995 when Jacques Chirac stood alongside outgoing President Francois Mitterrand at the ceremony.

Sarkozy arrived with his presidential entourage and inspected the troops before striding across the deserted Place Charles de Gaulle to shake Hollande’s hand. The two men exchanged a few words before laying the wreath and relighting the flame on the tomb.

Following the ceremony, Sarkozy cut a lonely figure as he greeted members of the crowd while Hollande was swamped by the media and supporters.

 

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