France marks Dien Bien Phu 50th anniversary

6th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 6 (AFP) - France on Friday will hold a solemn ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of its defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the epic battle that triggered the collapse of its colonial empire in Indochina.

PARIS, May 6 (AFP) - France on Friday will hold a solemn ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of its defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the epic battle that triggered the collapse of its colonial empire in Indochina.

French President Jacques Chirac will preside over a ceremony at the Invalides marked by "restraint and dignity," junior veterans affairs minister Hamlaoui Mekachera told French news channel LCI.

"Dien Bien Phu was the grand finale of the war in Indochina. We wanted first of all to pay tribute to our war dead and to all those who were plunged into mourning as a result of this battle," Mekachera said.

The battle, masterminded by legendary Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap, began on March 13, 1954, and lasted until French survivors raised the white flag of surrender on May 7.

Some 3,000 French troops were killed, and 10,000 Vietnamese lost their lives.

"We are launching a message of peace. France is working on all fronts to promote peace, and we will seize this opportunity to say so," the minister said.

Vietnam will formally celebrate its victory at Dien Bien Phu on Friday with ceremonies in the remote northwestern city and elsewhere across the nation.

Foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said the country would have the opportunity "to recall its glorious past and the precious and historic lessons of the fight for national liberation, independence and freedom".

© AFP

Subject: French news


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