Putin accepts invitation to attend D-Day ceremonies in France
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted France’s invitation to attend commemoration ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings this June, despite the two countries’ differences over the crisis in Ukraine.
Tensions between Russia and the West have reached their highest point since the end of the Cold War in recent months, with the United States and the European Union imposing targeted sanctions against Russia over its role in Ukraine’s crisis.
Despite that, Russia’s ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, announced on BFM television Thursday that Putin will be attend the commemorations, which are to be held in Normandy on June 6.
"President Putin has been invited by President (François) Hollande to take part in the ceremonies to commemorate the Normandy landings on June 6. He has accepted the invitation” he said.
Orlov’s comments came after Hollande made it clear earlier in the day that the Russian president was welcome to attend the commemoration ceremonies in spite of the recent tensions.
"We may have differences with Vladimir Putin but I have not forgotten and will never forget that the Russian people gave millions of lives [during World War II,]” Hollande said in an interview with TV broadcaster France 2. "I told Vladimir Putin that as the representative of the Russian people, he is welcome to the ceremonies."
The Normandy landings, also known as D-Day, marked a turning point in World War II and the start of the liberation of continental Europe.
Other world leaders and foreign dignitaries expected to attend commemoration ceremonies on June 6 include US President Barack Obama and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
The White House said, however, that Obama has no plans to meet with Putin at next month's events.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)