Vietnam invites France to remember Dien Bien Phu defeat after 70 years

France has for the first time been invited to commemorate the 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu, which led to French troops' defeat in Vietnam and marked the country's last stand in colonial Indochina.

Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu will represent France at commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the battle next week.

While French officials have previously visited memorials to the conflict, it will be the first time a minister has attended Vietnam's official remembrance ceremony.

"For the first time in history, the Vietnamese have invited France to this commemoration, a sign of their desire to build a relationship for the future," the French defence ministry said on Friday.

"There is a shared desire to look at the history of the Indochina War in a lucid and open manner," the ministry said.

Decisive battle

Between 13 March and 7 May 1954, the valley of Dien Bien Phu in northern Vietnam was the site of a ferocious battle between French colonial troops and Vietnamese communist forces.

Vietnamese fighters hemmed in the better-equipped French forces and bombarded them with heavy artillery.

Thousands died on both sides in France's bloodiest conflict since World War II.

The battle ended in the humiliating fall of the French troops, denting Paris's prestige and fuelling independence movements in other colonies.

Lecornu, who is travelling to Vietnam on Saturday, will pay tribute to the Vietnamese dead at a Vietnamese military cemetery on Tuesday, the defence ministry said.

Read more on RFI English

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