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30 nations plan WWI centennial

PARIS — For the 100th anniversary of World War I, officials from about 30 countries are meeting in Paris to plan four years of commemorative events.

At least 8.5 million soldiers are believed to have perished in the 1914-18 war.

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France, where the majority of Western Front fighting took place, is taking a leading role in the preparations.

Senior officials from countries including the United States, Britain, and Australia gathered Thursday under the Arc de Triomphe for a ceremonial relighting of the eternal flame that marks the tomb of France’s unknown soldier.

Meetings continue Friday under the golden dome of the 17th-century Invalides monument, led by French veterans’ affairs minister, Kader Arif.

President Francois Hollande is expected to unveil details of the events Nov. 8.

The Australian minister for veterans’ affairs, Michael Ronaldson, said it was key that participants ‘‘start defining where we all want each other to be . . . We’ll be talking about those key events that everyone wants to commemorate.’’

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