United States President Donald Trump failed could not attend the commemoration in France for the US soldiers and marines martyred during World War One on Saturday, due to rains that made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.
The last moment withdrawal from the visit brought widespread criticism to Trump on social media and from officials in Britain and the United States, on grounds that the President had ‘dishonoured’ the US servicemen.
Trump was scheduled to pay tribute at the ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 km (50 miles) east of Paris, with first lade Melania. But light steady shower and a low cloud ceiling barred his helicopter from commuting to the site.
The White House statement said that their attendance has been cancelled due to scheduling and difficulty with logistics caused by the weather. The statement also added that a delegation led by Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general went instead.
The unfavourable weather conditions that restricted the President’s visit was met with a storm of criticism on Twitter.
The White House officials further defended saying that the decision was also taken due to cited security apprehensions in hurriedly arranging a motorcade. Similar concerns disallowed Trump from reaching the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a year ago, as the foggy weather obstructed his helicopter from landing.
To which, Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security advisor for strategic communications for Barack Obama said that the justification about the severe weather did not stand up.
Tweeting, he said that he planned trips of then President Obama for 8 years and always had a rain option.
Although, the rain did not obstruct France President Emmanuel Macron and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel from holding a ceremony in Compiegne, northeast of Paris marking 100th anniversary of the signing of the World War One armistice.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended his own ceremony to pay tribute to Canadian troops martyred at Vimy Ridge, on the battlefields of north-eastern France.