International leaders and veterans mark D-Day, 70 years on

International leaders and veterans mark D-Day, 70 years on
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World leaders have gathered in Normandy, France, to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

And with the Ukraine crisis ongoing, it was the first time US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko had been seen together.

Putin and Poroshenko both called for an end to the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.

French President Francois Hollande welcomed world leaders to a special ceremony at Sword Beach, including Poroshenko.

Angela Merkel was well-received, 10 years on from Gerhard Schroeder being the first German Chancellor to attend the D-Day commemorations.

Putin, who had earlier had a 10-minute talk with Obama, was also at the ceremony.

He joined 8,000 other guests including hundreds of veterans, 676 of whom were from Britain and 150 from France.

There was a warm welcome for Obama, who earlier said that the USA’s commitment to liberty, equality and freedom was written in blood on Normandy’s beaches and that it would endure for eternity.

Hollande then welcomed Queen Elizabeth II to the beach where 28,000 British soldiers had come ashore 70 years ago.

He paid tribute to the soldiers’ courage.

“Freedom is a struggle, freedom is not obvious as some might believe – those within our nations who think that freedom is like the air we breathe, in other words, natural, and that there is no need even to think about it,” said Hollande.

“Yet freedom is always a struggle, it can never be taken for granted.”

After the speeches, historic events were reenacted in a performance evoking occupied Europe, the longest day, the road to victory and pathways to peace and reconstruction.