French President Macron to Grace Republic Day as Chief Guest, Strengthening Indo-French Ties

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French President Macron to Grace Republic Day as Chief Guest, Strengthening Indo-French Ties

| Updated: December 22, 2023 13:04

In a significant diplomatic development, sources reveal that French President Emmanuel Macron is poised to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26. This marks the fifth instance of a French leader being accorded this prestigious honor, solidifying the longstanding relationship between the two nations.

The decision comes in the wake of the United States’ inability to accept India’s invitation for President Joe Biden to attend the Republic Day celebrations. Reports suggest that President Biden’s focus on domestic affairs, including the annual state of the union address and his re-election bid in 2024, played a role in this decision.

With little over six weeks remaining until the event, India found itself in the position of seeking an alternative world leader as the chief guest. While rumors circulated about reaching out to leaders such as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and heads of state from West Asian countries, the spotlight now turns to President Macron.

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Official confirmation of Macron’s attendance is yet to be announced by Indian officials, but those familiar with the matter anticipate a formal announcement soon. The French president’s presence would mark the sixth time a French head of state has graced the Republic Day celebrations since 1976, joining the ranks of Jacques Chirac, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François Hollande.

This news aligns with the strong bilateral ties between France and India, further emphasized by the recent participation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chief guest at France’s Bastille Day celebrations in July. The close relationship between Macron and Modi is evident, with France emerging as one of India’s key European partners.

Additionally, this development coincides with reports of France submitting a bid to India’s defense ministry for the sale of 26 Rafale-Marine combat jets, valued at an estimated ₹50,000 crore. The jets are intended to enhance the combat capabilities of the Indian Navy, building upon the existing fleet of 36 Rafale jets acquired in a ₹59,000-crore deal finalized in 2016.

France’s significance as a strategic partner is underscored by its substantial naval assets in the Indian Ocean region, covering 93% of its exclusive economic zone. Regular naval exercises and close cooperation between the Indian and French navies in areas such as maritime security exemplify the depth of their collaboration.

As the anticipation for Republic Day builds, the expected presence of President Macron adds a diplomatic highlight to the event, symbolizing the enduring friendship and shared interests between India and France.

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