Hollande, Merkel remember WWI dead 100 years after Verdun battle

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will stand together on the battlefield of Verdun to remember those killed 100 years ago in one of the bloodiest episodes of World War I.

To mark the centenary, Hollande and Merkel will lay wreaths at cemeteries holding the dead of both sides in the northeast French town.

The 1916 offensive lasted 300 days and claimed more than 300,000 lives.

Both leaders are expected to use the day of remembrance to stress the need for unity at a time when the European Union is under pressure from the migrant crisis and a possible Brexit.

Speaking on the eve of the commemorations, Merkel underlined the close ties between the neighbouring countries, often described as the twin motors of Europe.

“To be invited to these commemorations shows the extent to which relations between France and Germany are good today,” she said.

In the run-up to the ceremony, Hollande recalled the moment during the 1984 commemoration that his predecessor Francois Mitterrand and the then chancellor of West Germany Helmut Kohl joined hands during the playing of the French national anthem.

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