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July 14, 2013

World Dignitaries Attend France's Bastille Day Parade

by VOA News

World dignitaries including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined French President Francois Hollande for the Bastille Day parade in Paris Sunday.

Close to 5,000 troops, including U.N. soldiers in blue berets and servicemen from 13 African countries marched past the presidential stage where Hollande stood with Ban.

France's biggest holiday took place in the shadow of a deadly train crash just 20 kilometers south of the French capital. At least seven people were reported killed in the Friday train derailment. Many others were injured.

In a televised interview Sunday President Hollande said more has to be done to maintain traditional rail lines.

But the president focused on France's achievements. He said that France's economy is beginning to recover, citing an increase in industrial production and a slight recovery in consumption.

The traditional military parade on the Champs Elysees was led by a Malian officer, drawing attention to France's role in liberating the African country's north from Islamist and other insurgent groups.

Bastille Day is France's biggest national holiday. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille fortress in 1789, which marked the start of the French Revolution.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.