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French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are marking the 100th anniversary of the battle of Verdun, the longest of World War One. Hundreds of thousands of French and German soldiers died during 10 months of fighting in north-eastern France. France eventually emerged victorious. But Verdun is seen as a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation, which was reflected by both Mr Hollande and Mrs Merkel in their speeches.
The ceremonies started with the leaders visiting the German military cemetery at Consenvoye, just north of Verdun, where 11,000 German soldiers are buried. The leaders then moved on to a ceremony at Verdun city hall. In her speech there, Mrs Merkel said only those who know the past can draw lessons and build a good future. Mr Hollande also reflected on Franco-German relations, saying that Mrs Merkel's presence showed that Verdun was not a symbol of suffering but one of hope.

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