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Biden visits WWI cemetery in France in rebuke to Trump

By AFP - Jun 10,2024 - Last updated at Jun 10,2024

BELLEAU, France — US President Joe Biden travelled to a World War I cemetery in France on Sunday in a visit seen as a jab at his predecessor Donald Trump who in 2018 skipped the visit, reportedly calling American war dead “losers”.

Biden, an 81-year-old Democrat, is set to face Trump, a 77-year-old Republican, later this year in a presidential election that commentators predict will subject US democracy to a severe test.

On the last day of his five-day tour, Biden visited the sprawling Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial near the village of Belleau in northern France.

The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley in 1918.

During the visit, Biden saluted military officers standing beside a floral wreath at the bottom of the steps of a cemetery chapel.

He then approached the wreath, touched it, stood silently for a few moments and made the sign of the cross.


Trump troop controversy 


Then-president Trump cancelled his visit to the site in 2018, officially due to poor weather that made helicopter travel risky.

But the Atlantic magazine, citing sources, said Trump refused to visit the cemetery because he did not think it was important and because he was also concerned about his hair.

“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the magazine quoted Trump as telling his staff members.

In a separate conversation, Trump called the marines who perished at Belleau Wood “suckers”, the Atlantic reported.

The billionaire has denied making those remarks.

Biden has repeatedly needled Trump over the report.

“He said they’re ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’,” Biden said at a recent fundraiser.

“Who in the hell does he think he is? This guy does not deserve to be president,” he said in comments released by the White House.

Biden preferred not to discuss the controversy on Sunday, however.

Asked by reporters what message he wanted to send to voters, Biden replied: “Any other question?”

Biden has been in France since Wednesday and took part in this week’s commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Those landings in northern France, involving US, British, Canadian and other foreign troops, changed the course of World War II.

On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Biden on a state visit overshadowed by Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

Biden said he had travelled to France many times but “this has been the most remarkable trip that I’ve ever made”.

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