by Sonia Ounissi
PARIS, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) — French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel clasped hands on Saturday during a solemn joint ceremony at a historic site, in a vow of peace and unity.
The two leaders made pilgrimage to Compiègne in eastern France, where the Allies and Germany signed an initial ceasefire accord which put an end to the First World War.
They laid a wreath and unveiled a plaque celebrating Franco-German reconciliation.
“On the centenary of the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice, Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, here reaffirmed the value of Franco-German reconciliation in the service of Europe and peace,” read the plaque.
Macron sent a tweet with a picture of the two leaders standing closely to each other in front of the plaque, with a single word “United” as its text.
“Our Europe has been at peace for 73 years … It has been in peace because … the French and the Germans wanted it,” Macron told a group of young people on the sidelines of the ceremony.
“The message is not to yield to temptations of division. French and German youths must continue to lead common projects, to build the future together,” he added.
They also signed the visitors’ book in a replica of a famous railway carriage, known as the Compiègne Wagon, where as revenge, Adolf Hitler forced France to sign its capitulation in June 1940.
Since last week, Macron has visited a string of former battlefields of northern and eastern France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
On Sunday morning, he will light the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arch of Triumph to celebrate the Armistice alongside foreign leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.