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World leaders gather in Paris for peace conference

Charles Platiau, REUTERS | World leaders will gather at the Grande Halle de La Villette for the three-day Paris Peace Forum on the centenary anniversary of the WW1 Armistice.

Dozens of world leaders met in the French capital on Sunday for the opening of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an impassioned plea for world peace and cooperation 100 years after Germany's defeat in World War I, saying "we must not simply stand by and watch" as more conflicts continue to unfold around the world.

Merkel denounced the "national vaingloriousness and military arrogance" that led to the "senseless bloodshed" of two world wars.

She warned against taking peace for granted, saying: "We have to work for it."

In a veiled dig at US President Donald Trump's America-first policies and skepticism toward multilateral cooperation, Merkel warned that "lack of communication and unwillingness to compromise" can have deadly consequences.

"The concern I have is that blinkered nationalist views may gain ground once again,’ she said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned of "parallels" between the present day and the unstable and dangerous 1930s as he marked the centenary of World War I in a speech in Paris.

"As I see it, several elements today have many parallels with both the start of the twentieth century and the 1930s, giving us grounds to fear that an unpredictable chain of events could ensue," Guterres said at the Paris Peace Forum.

Trump chose not to attend the forum, instead delivering Veterans Day remarks at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in the suburbs of Paris.

More than 1,500 Americans who died during the war are buried there.

Earlier Sunday, some 70 world leaders gathered on the Champs-Élysées to mark the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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