World leaders remember D-Day

World leaders have paid tribute to the thousands of Allied troops who fought and died in the D-Day landings in Normandy 60 years ago.

    Bush paid tribute to the 10,000 allied D-Day casualties

    Putting aside differences over the Iraq war, US President

    George Bush and French President Jacques Chirac

    vowed on Sunday

    to safeguard the transatlantic alliance they forged.

    They said modern

    leaders had a duty to honour the values the soldiers died for by

    defending the cause of freedom and democracy together.

    "France will never forget what it owes America, its

    steadfast friend and ally," Chirac told a ceremony attended by

    about 20 heads of state and government at Arromanches, a coastal

    village which was the scene of heavy fighting on 6 June, 1944.

    "Like all the countries of Europe, France is keenly aware

    that the Atlantic alliance remains, in the face of new threats,

    a fundamental element of our collective security."

    Spirit of reconciliation

    Hailing the presence of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the

    first German leader to attend D-Day anniversary events in

    France, Chirac said: "We hold up the example of Franco-German

    reconciliation, to show the world that hatred has no future."

    "The German soldiers had a job to do, just as we had a job

    to do. I feel

    no animosity towards them, and after all it was 60 years ago"



    John Rockley.
    British D-Day veteran

    Bush, standing beside Chirac at an earlier ceremony, said

    the United States and its European allies were bound together by

    the sacrifices that were made 60 years ago to help liberate

    Europe from the Nazis' stranglehold during World War Two.

    "Our great alliance is strong and it is still needed today,"

    Bush told a crowd of war veterans at the US cemetery at

    Colleville-sur-Mer, a village near the beach codenamed Omaha

    where US troops suffered heavy losses.

    A 21-gun salute and a military flyover honoured those buried

    at the cemetery as Bush and Chirac stood to attention.

     

    Many of the D-Day survivors, some in wheelchairs and many

    now in their 80s, embodied the spirit of reconciliation.

    Massive security operation

    "The German soldiers had a job to do, just as we had a job

    to do," said 81-year-old British veteran John Rockley. "I feel

    no animosity towards them, and after all it was 60 years ago."

    Bush and Chirac made their own pledges of reconciliation at

    talks in Paris on Saturday intended to mend ties strained by

    differences over the Iraq war, which France opposed.

    Neither made any direct reference to Iraq on Sunday,

    avoiding saying anything that might stoke a new diplomatic row.

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair,

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister

    Paul Martin were among other leaders who attended the ceremonies

    amid one of the biggest security operations staged in France.

    Historical battle

    France and the US put aside their
    differences over the Iraq war

    Around 30,000 troops were deployed in the area around the

    Normandy beaches and helicopters patrolled overhead.

    Fighter

    planes were ready to shoot down any aircraft violating the

    no-fly zone around the event if ordered to do so by Paris.

    Queen Elizabeth hailed the allies' advance in France as "one

    of the most dramatic military operations in history".

    Some 23,400 British and American paratroopers were dropped

    inland on D-Day and more than 132,000 troops were then landed on

    Normandy beaches codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

    Allied casualties on D-Day are estimated at 10,000, of whom

    2,500 were killed. German casualties are not known but are

    estimated at between 4,000 and 9,000.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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