World leaders gather in Paris for Jacques Chirac′s funeral | News | DW | 30.09.2019
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World leaders gather in Paris for Jacques Chirac's funeral

Dozens of world leaders have gathered in Paris to bid farewell to former French President Jacques Chirac. A national day of mourning culminated in a military ceremony and a funeral mass.

Foreign dignitaries gathered in the French capital on Monday for the funeral of Jacques Chirac, who died last week at the age of 86.

The former statesman served as president of France from 1995 to 2007, during a political career that spanned four decades.

Read more: Jacques Chirac — the human bulldozer

Monday was declared a national day of mourning, and a minute's silence was held in schools and public buildings across the country.

In a ceremony presided over by French President Emmanuel Macron, French armed forces gave Chirac military honors in the courtyard of Les Invalides. 

During the ceremony, a military band played the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise," and Chirac's casket was carried to the center of the courtyard draped in the French flag. 

After the military ceremony, Chirac's coffin was taken to Saint Sulpice church in central Paris for a midday memorial ceremony attended by Macron and some 30 other heads of state and government leaders.

The coffin of Jacques Chirac covered by a French flag

Thousands of mourners lined up to see Jacques Chirac's coffin at the Invalides monument in Paris

Chirac honored by world leaders

At the funeral service, current and former world leaders were joined by nearly 2,000 people who held a moment of silence for Chirac. 

Guests included Russian President Vladimir Putin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and former US President Bill Clinton. According to the Elysee Palace and the European Commission, the outgoing head of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, had been expected to attend, but was unable due to health reasons.

Germany's ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder was also expected to travel to Paris. However, his office said that Schröder had not been formally invited by French officials, and a chair marked with his name was left empty during a church service honoring Chirac, according to an AFP reporter.

The reasons for the missing invitation were not immediately clear. It was also unclear if Schröder would attend the subsequent lunch with President Macron. The former German leader became a controversial figure after leaving office in 2005 due to his extensive connections with Russian state energy companies. 

Read moreFormer French President Chirac found guilty of corruption

Mourners line up to farewell Jacques Chirac at the Hotel des Invalides

Mourners line up to farewell Jacques Chirac at the Hotel des Invalides on Sunday

A celebrated leader 

Thousands of people queued up in the rain on Sunday in Paris to pay their final respects to Chirac, who was lying in state at the Invalides complex.

Chirac was celebrated by many in France for asserting the country's role as a global player, with his opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 considered one of his most significant actions. Chirac is also being remembered for being the first French president to acknowledge France's role in the deportation of Jews during World War II. He remained a popular figure after leaving office, despite a conviction for misusing public funds.

Chirac was buried in a small ceremony with close family and friends at Montparnasse cemetery in Paris. He was laid to rest in a plot next to his daughter Laurence, who died in 2016 at the age of 58.

wmr, nm/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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