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France’s Macron attends India’s Republic Day parade as guest of honour

Macron says ‘great honour for France’ as French contingent marches in New Delhi during parade

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 26 January 2024 10:07 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron waves as he attends a welcoming ceremony at Amber Fort in Jaipur
French President Emmanuel Macron waves as he attends a welcoming ceremony at Amber Fort in Jaipur (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

French president Emmanuel Macron on Friday attended India's Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi and extended his gratitude to the host nation for inviting French troops to participate in the parade.

Mr Macron arrived in India on Wednesday to attend India's 75th Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest.

Seated next to prime minister Narendra Modi, Mr Macron witnessed a march-past by different contingents of the Indian and French armed forces at the Kartavya Path in New Delhi, formerly known as the Rajpath.

"A great honour for France. Thank you, India," Mr Marcon shared on X, along with a video of the French marching contingent.

France last year invited Mr Modi as a guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade in Paris in July, where Mr Macron called India a key player "in our future".

The French prime minister travelled to the western city of Jaipur on Thursday afternoon and met Mr Modi at an 18th-century observatory, where the leaders stood in an open jeep as they were driven for about 1.5 km.

He was welcomed with a shower of rose and marigold petals as he waved at the crowds lining the streets of the popular tourist city.

French President Emmanuel Macron attends Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, India (REUTERS)

Mr Macron later held a meeting at a hotel in Jaipur before leaving for Delhi. However, no immediate official statement was released about the outcome of the meeting, which was expected to be on the lines of defence, economy and the role of France in the Indo-Pacific region.

Discussions around India's plans to purchase 26 French Rafale fighter aircraft for its navy were also on the cards during the visit but sources close to the talks have said they expect the trip to be more ceremonial than substantial in terms of deals done.

India's Defence Acquisition Council last year approved the purchase of the Rafale jets along with three Scorpene submarines, jointly developed by France and Spain.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi walks on the day of Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, India (REUTERS)

France has so far delivered 36 Rafale fighter aircraft ordered by the Indian Air Force, some of which were on display at the air during the Republic Day celebrations. Low visibility due to Delhi’s chronic winter smog hampered public views of the display, however.

"His presence not only strengthens the ties between our nations but also adds a significant chapter to our shared history of friendship and collaboration," Mr Modi said on social media X of Mr Macron.

France is looking to strengthen cooperation with India, despite frictions over the two countries’ attitudes toward Russia’s war on Ukraine. “Macron is committed to the pursuit of a closer dialogue with India, a key player on the international scene from a demographic point of view, as well as economic, scientific and diplomatic,” his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

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