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World War II

+Live updates on ceremonies to mark 70th anniversary of D-Day+

Ceremonies to remember the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings by Allied troops in Nazi-occupied France have kicked off with world leaders taking part. Surviving veterans of the invasion are in France for ceremonies.

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)

14:06 - French President Francois Hollande has opened the main ceremony in Ouistreham beach. Paying tribute to the veterans in the crowd, Hollande said, "Thank you for having been here in the summer of '44. Thank you for still being here on June 6, 2014." France's gratitude, he said, "will never be extinguished."

13:30 - While dignitaries continue to arrive at Ouistreham beach, the White House has confirmed that President Barack Obama and Russia's Putin have held informal talks on the sidelines of the commemorations.

13:00 - Ouistreham: French President Francois Hollande and other world leaders have begun arriving at Ouistreham beach for the start of an official D-Day commemoration ceremony.

12:21 - Benouville: An unnamed French official has said Russia's President Putin and Ukraine's Poroshenko held face-to-face talks before a lunch with other world leaders. In a conversation that lasted about 15 minutes, the two leaders discussed possible measures to de-escalate the crisis as well as a possible ceasefire, according to the official.

11:58 - Benouville: A Reuters reporter has said that Ukraine's president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, spoke with Vladimir Putin after Putin's hour-long meeting with Angela Merkel earlier. The two leaders reportedly talked as they walked towards the chateau, in a discussion lasting around one minute. French President Hollande had invited Poroshenko to the D-Day ceremonies after he won last month's elections in Ukraine, saying the event should "serve the purposes of peace."

This photo via the Straits Times of Singapore on Twitter:

11:08 - Benouville: World leaders have begun arriving at the Chateau de Benouville for their lunch-time appointment. The major memorial ceremony in Ouistreham - to the east of the landing zone that spanned the bay between Cherbourg to the west and Le Havre to the east - is scheduled to follow at 12:30 p.m. UTC, or 1430 local time.

10:20 - Deauville: Ahead of her meeting with Putin, Chancellor Merkel urged European leaders to redouble efforts to make the European Union succeed on this historic anniversary. "The 6th of June should be an incentive to continue working together towards the success of Europe - for a Europe in which the power of rights are respected, not the rights of the powerful," Merkel wrote in an editorial for Friday's edition of the newspaper Ouest France.

09:55 - Bayeux cemetery: Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, meet with British veterans at the cemetery. The Queen will join the 20 world leaders set to gather for lunch at the Chateau de Benouville shortly.

09:44 - Deauville: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have sat down for planned formal talks at a hotel in the coastal town. The pair shook hands, but sat relatively far apart from each other in an atmosphere that "appeared chilly," according to correspondents from the German DPA news agency.

Putin - who has already held talks with Hollande and British Prime Minsiter David Cameron ahead of the D-Day events - does not have a formal appointment with Obama. However, officials in Washington and the US president himself have indicated that it's possible that the two will hold informal discussions.

Merkel und Putin 06.06.2014 in Deauville

Merkel and Putin's talks were set to be dominated by the Ukraine unrest

09:30 - Colleville-sur-Mer: Obama follows his French counterpart Hollande at the podium, saying that soldiers storming the Omaha Beach there 70 years ago breached "Hitler's Wall" and paved the way for democracy and freedom in Europe.

"By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought and won - a piece of Europe once again liberated and free. Hitler's Wall was breached, letting loose Patton's Army to pour into France," Obama said, calling Omaha "democracy's beachhead."

[Editor's note: General George S. Patton was a key US officer in the invasion of Normandy; he died in a car crash months after the war's end.]

D-Day Feier 06.06.2014 Queen

The Queen visited graves before talking to veterans in Deauville

09:16 - At Bayeux, a little further inland from the Colleville beaches, footage shows Queen Elizabeth II arriving for a ceremony honoring fallen British soldiers. The monarch, now 88, has reduced her numer of foreign appointments in recent years. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will also attend.

09:12 - French President Hollande addresses the gathering at Colleville-sur-Mer, saying "we will never forget" the sacrifice of US and other Allied troops 70 years ago. "We are the children and the grandchildren of that generation," Holland says, before adding that he was born in a peaceful Normandy 60 years ago.

08:40 - US President Barack Obama arrives at the cemetery for American soldiers at Colleville-sur-Mer. There, he was scheduled to meet both surviving veterans of the landings and those who have served in recent years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hollande joined Obama at the site, home to nearly 10,000 white marble tombstones for fallen US troops.

07:45 - French President Francois Hollande opens the official ceremonies marking the anniversary in Caen.

"This day, which began in chaos and fire, would end in blood and tears, tears and pain, tears and joy at the end of 24 hours that changed the world and forever marked Normandy," Hollande says.

04:30 - A US military band plays taps while D-Day veterans from the 29th Infantry Division and currently serving troops stand at attention at the precise moment when, on June 6, 1944 Allied troops first walked ashore.

msh/pfd (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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