Trump to meet Macron during France trip

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 10, 2018

Mr Kalifat said it was "an insult" that a French president could honour Petain on "the same level as the other generals", but he acknowledged the marshal's pivotal role in the Great War that earned him the nickname "Lion of Verdun".

Both the USA and Russian officials have previously confirmed that a meeting between the two leaders would be held in Paris on the sidelines of World War I commemoration ceremonies.

"He was a great soldier, it's a fact", he said, though he stressed that Petain had made "disastrous choices" during World War II.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also participate in the Trump's meeting with Macron, State Department spokesperson said in a press release.

In the wake of the criticism, Macron's spokesperson confirmed Petain's name would not be mentioned during the ceremony, adding that the French President would not be attending Saturday's ceremony.

"We have to recognise the historical truth, but also our duty to remember, and the consequences of the indignity which was established" at Petain's treason trial in 1945, he said. Yet, that would change dramatically two decades later when Petain collaborated with Nazi Germany. But his reputation was shredded when he established the collaborationist Vichy government of unoccupied France that deported more than 70,000 Jews to Nazi death camps.

Politicians and organizations were quick to criticize his words. "It judges the vast and unworthy responsibility of a marshal who deliberately used his name and prestige as a cover for treason and the collaboration and deportation of thousands of Jews in France".

"I am shocked by this statement by Macron", CRIF president Francis Kalifat said. "Petain signed the (law on) the status of Jews that meant Jews were excluded from public functions, education and forced to wear the Jewish star".

"Macron, this time, it's too much".

For years French leaders have treaded lightly when dealing with Petain's tortuous legacy, which his critics say left an indelible stain on the country.

"Petain is a traitor and an anti-Semite", tweeted Jean-Luc Melenchon of the far-left France Unbowed party, echoing a flurry of angry postings.

But his comments drew fire from the opposition as well as Jewish leaders on a still painful chapter in France's history.

Petain took over as the leader of France under Nazi Germany's occupation of France from 1940 until its defeat in World War II.

Macron had indicated Wednesday that Petain would be among the eight army chiefs honoured at the Invalides military museum on Saturday, saying he had earned the nation's gratitude.

After the war, Petain was sentenced to death for treason, though then-President General Charles de Gaulle, a longtime admirer of Petain's military feats of arms, reduced the punishment to life in prison.

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