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City plans to be focal point of First World War centenary

SCOTLAND'S largest city is planning to be a global focal point in marking the anniversary of the start of the First World War.

An event will take place the day after the curtain comes down on the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

As a result, many high-profile dignitaries and political leaders will still be in the area after the closing ceremony.

Discussions have taken place between the council, senior military figures and the Royal British Legion about the shape any commemoration should take.

One source said Glasgow would be a "significant venue on the world stage", as nations across the globe mark the British Empire's entry in the First World War which resulted in the deaths of 37 million soldiers and civilians.

It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron said £50 million would be set aside for the centenary of the war, with national commemorations on specific anniversaries such as the outbreak of war, Armistice Day and major battles.

There will be an upgrade to the Imperial War Museum by 2014 and funds to help secondary schools explore the First World War and its vast consequences.

Mr Cameron said the commemoration should be like the Diamond Jubilee and "capture our national spirit in every corner of the country".

Observers have also claimed it will be another platform to commemorate Britishness in the year the SNP will try to take Scotland out of the UK, although the Scottish Government has said it would be fully involved in the remembrance. The overall UK emphasis will be placed on the global nature of the conflict.

Scots involved in the UK-wide commemorations include former Hamilton MP and Nato secretary-general Lord Robertson and former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell.

Minutes from a recent meeting of the council underlined the possibility Glasgow could play a historic role. They stated: "It was anticipated this could be a major event in Glasgow ... as many of the Commonwealth dignitaries would still be in the city."

A source said: "There was an initial meeting bringing together military officers, the British Legion, others with an interest in our armed forces and some people within the council. We're looking at the early stages although we've had projects on the go for about four years involving schools and museums looking at the commemorating the war.

"From these plans we've had discussions on the fact the day after the 2014 Games is August 4, the day Britain entered the war, and that will kick off the four years of commemoration.

"There will be huge press corps still in town, dignitaries and political leaders from what was the British Empire. The plan will be to ask those here for the closing ceremony to stay for an extra day. Having Canadians, Australians, Jamaicans, South Africans for the anniversary will show this was a war which touched the world and didn't just involve Brits."

A council spokesman said: "Glasgow will mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in the appropriate manner, but our planning is still in the early stages."

There will be commemorations across the UK on August 4.

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