Trump cancels memorial visit to United States cemetery in France due to rain

The US flag flutters at half mast prior to a ceremony at the Aisne Marne American cemetery and memorial in Belleau

FRANCOIS MORI APThe US flag flutters at half mast prior to a ceremony at the Aisne Marne American cemetery and memorial in Belleau

On Saturday, Trump was criticized for failing to visit a second American cemetery about 60 miles outside of Paris because bad weather grounded the helicopter he planned to take.

"We are gathered together at this hallowed resting place to pay tribute to the courageous Americans who gave their last breath in that mighty struggle", Trump said at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in the suburbs of Paris, where more than 1,500 Americans who died in the war are buried.

However, Trump was in Paris commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The Battle of Belleau Wood was a critical conflict in the war and a pivotal encounter in Marine Corps history.

In response to critics who said Trump could have made the trip by auto, the White House issued a statement Sunday night saying Trump did not want to disrupt traffic around Paris. Trump is attending centennial commemorations in Paris this weekend to mark the Armistice that ended World War I. November 11, 2018. That also means that Trump won't visit Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, as the country observes Veterans Day - an unofficial presidential tradition.

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Trump's visit had been much anticipated after he called off a trip to the Belleau Wood battlefield in northern France on Saturday due to the rain, a decision for which he was widely criticised.

His fractious relationship with Europe has driven a wedge between the United States and some of its oldest allies on issues including trade, defence spending and his seeming deference to their looming neighbour to the east, Russia's Vladimir Putin.

"It was very attractive, so well done", was Trump's verdict on the ceremony, at which his host, French President Emmanuel Macron, delivered a stinging indictment of nationalism. The latter has become a hot topic after Macron recently proposed the creation of a "European army" - an idea that was subsequently by Trump. The French President's office said Mr Trump had misunderstood Mr Macron's comments, lumping together two different ideas.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump said it is "ridiculously unfair" for the United States to spend "massive amounts" of money on troops in Europe while experiencing "nothing but Trade Deficits and Losses" with the same counties that host the US military. Meanwhile, the USA leader stressed again that Europe should do more on defense burden sharing.

The cemetery has a total number of 2,288 gravesites honouring those who died in the WW1, including many Americans soldiers and mariners.

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