French President Emmanuel Macron likely to be Republic Day chief guest

French President Emmanuel Macron is likely to be the chief guest at next year's Republic Day celebrations reaffirming strategic partnership that has received a big boost in recent years. 

India and France are finalising the modalities and giving shape to what will be a significant visit amid the tumultuous period in geopolitics, ET has learnt.
France, like India, pursues a concept of strategic autonomy in their foreign policy and PM Narendra Modi shares an excellent chemistry with Macron.

The last time a French president was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations was in 2016 during the term of the then President Francois Hollande. Modi was the chief guest at this year's French national day (Bastille Day) celebrations and parade in France. To mark the 25th anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, a 241-member tri-service Indian armed forces contingent led by a military band also participated in the Parade. 

France has been among the top defence partners with a focus in recent years under the Make in India initiative. An old partner in the space sector, France has been a partner in the field of civil nuclear energy. In fact, unlike some other Western powers, France did not sanction India post Pokhran -II. 

Neither does France have the habit of interfering in the internal affairs, including any lecture on human rights and freedom of press, an observer of Indo-French ties pointed out. 

This week, the French government has submitted its response to India's Rs 50,000 crore tender to purchase 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets for the Indian Navy. India has initiated the $6 billion deal with France for the acquisition of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft, aiming to enhance the Indian Navy's aircraft carrier capabilities. The procurement includes 22 single-seated Rafale Marine aircraft and four twin-seater trainer versions.

France is India's key partner in the Indian Ocean Region -- the two have also stitched up trilaterals with the UAE and Australia. 

French leaders have been invited as chief guests at Republic Day celebrations beginning with Jacques Chirac as PM in 1976, followed by Valery Giscard d'Estaing (President) in 1980, followed by Chirac as President in 1988, followed by Nikolas Sarkozy (President) in 2008 and Hollande in 2016. India had earlier approached US President Joe Biden to be the Republic Day chief guest coinciding with the Quad Summit. However, Biden was unable to accept the invite, reportedly due to the State of the Union address.

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