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Macron & Merkel hold symbolic meeting ahead of WWI centenary

Macron & Merkel hold symbolic meeting ahead of WWI centenary
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By Robert Hackwill
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Leaders visit Compiegne forest and the scene of past defeats and victories in two world wars.

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French and German leaders returned to the Compiegne forest in the Oise on Saturday for the first time since WWII.

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, on the eve of the centenary commemorations for the end of WWI, unveiled a plaque and signed a visitors' book in the railway carriage in which the WWI armistice and the French surrender in 1940 had been signed.

Marechal Foch had organised the armistice talks in this out-of-the-way place to avoid embarrassing the Germans in defeat; in 1940 Hitler chose it to rub the French's noses in their fall, revenge for the 1918 humiliation, before destroying the carriage and the site. The French restored it in the 1950s.

There was obvious warmth between the two leaders, the shame and triumphalism of the past firmly buried for both; partners now with far more pressing matters at hand, ensuring the development and growth of the European Union.

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