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APTOPIX France WWI Centennial

World leaders gather in Paris a century after WWI armistice

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PARIS (AP) — Commemorations are underway around the world to mark the moment 100 years ago when the slaughter of World War I finally stopped.

France, the epicenter of the first global conflict, was hosting the main international commemoration, pressing home the point that the world mustn't stumble into war again, as it did so quickly and catastrophically with World War II.

The more than 60 world leaders scheduled to gather at precisely 11 a.m., a century after the cease-fire, included those with the power to destroy humanity if it ever stumbled into the folly of a World War III.

The U.S. and Russian presidents were being joined by an array of leaders whose geographical spread showed how the "war to end all wars" left few corners of the earth untouched.

On the other side of the globe, the first countries and territories to see the dawn kicked off the commemorations, pushing for peace with the simple act of recalling how the 1914-1918 war killed and wounded soldiers and civilians in unprecedented numbers and in gruesome new, mechanized ways.

Australia and New Zealand lost tens of thousands of people on foreign fields far away in Europe and, most memorably in the brutal 1915 battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Both commemorated their dead Sunday.

In Paris, the jewel that Germany sought to capture in 1914 but which the Allies fought successfully to defend, commemorations were centered around the Arc de Triomphe, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives.

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