PARIS (AP) — In his last state ceremony before stepping down as France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy led commemorations in Paris on Tuesday marking the end of World War II in Europe.
Sarkozy was joined by President-elect Francois Hollande, and the two political rivals stood side by side at the Arc de Triomphe war memorial.
To the stirring anthem "The Marseillaise," a solemn-looking Sarkozy began the proceedings by laying a wreath at the statue of Charles de Gaulle, the former president and leader of the Free French Forces, in a nod to Sarkozy's Gaullist roots.
The president also shook hands at the Champs-Elysees avenue ceremony with military dignitaries, including Gen. de Gaulle's 90-year-old son, Philippe.
A cortege followed Sarkozy up the grand central artery to the Place de l'Etoile, where he and outgoing Prime Minister Francois Fillon inspected the troops.
The Arc de Triomphe has a special significance for World War II since Adolf Hitler marched his Nazi troops through the iconic monument when Germany took France over in 1940. It also was the site where Allied troops — including many U.S. soldiers — celebrated victory over Germany 67 years ago.
Sarkozy — who looked particularly downbeat throughout the ceremony — was joined by Hollande, the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, to lay another wreath at a World War I memorial.
The two leaders, putting aside their differences, then stood side by side in silence for several minutes at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, whose symbolic flame was made to burn brighter during the ceremony.
The rare scene of the two top officials together will no doubt feature prominently in French newspapers.
The two men then met dignitaries, including some World War II veterans, before shaking hands with each other in front of the cameras.
Speaking to the media following the ceremony, Hollande said that after a "particularly" tough campaign, "it was useful and helpful for the country to know it can still come together ... around the president still in power, and the newly elected one, for the same one cause: the country."
The Socialist narrowly beat Sarkozy on Sunday to be the next president of France by just over 1 million votes. Sarkozy and Hollande will meet again on May 15 at the presidential Elysee Palace for the official transfer of power.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The two youngest members of the U.S. Senate are co-sponsoring a bill aimed at lowering college costs that includes withholding federal funds from schools that don't meet affordability and quality standards.
MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Police in Connecticut say a man they suspect killed three women took his own life minutes after officers confronted him.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's governor is calling for houses of worship to mark the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting by ringing their bells 26 times — once for each of the victims killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Authorities have canceled an alert for a missing a 16-year-old Stamford girl they say ran away with her 1-year-old son.
When you hear the soothing tones of Bing Crosby you just know a Christmas tree is close by.
New Haven police are investigating the death of a man who was found with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Stamford police are looking for a 16-year-old girl and her one year old son.
A gun buyback program sponsored by Hartford police and area hospitals collected 181 guns, including seven assault weapons.
Police in Waterbury are looking for clues to solve a late-night homicide where a man was shot in the neck.
A two-alarm fire destroyed a church in Pomfret Saturday afternoon.