France is celebrating Bastille Day.
Leaders from Europe, the
Middle East and North Africa - as well as United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - joined French President Nicolas Sarkozy
at the celebrations.
The world leaders were already in Paris for Sunday's inaugural Mediterranean Union summit.
presence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad among leaders reviewing
the parade has angered human rights activists, opposition politicians
and some in the French military who served in a United Nations peace
force in Lebanon. Mr. Assad has been accused of sponsoring terrorism
and undermining Middle East unity.
On the occasion of Bastille
Day, Mr. Sarkozy granted his country's highest award - the Legion of
Honor - to a number of notables, including former French-Colombian
hostage Ingrid Betancourt.
The French national holiday
commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison, which marked the
beginning of the French Revolution.
Cities throughout France
hold military parades in the morning and fireworks in the evening on
July 14. The largest parade in the capital includes a flyover by air
force jets. French communities worldwide also celebrate Bastille Day
with picnics, parties and fireworks.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.