French President Macron will be Republic Day chief guest: MEA

New Delhi: French President Emmanuel Macron will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 which would make him the sixth French leader to grace the prestigious annual event.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Macron will be visiting India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India had invited US President Joe Biden to be the Republic Day chief guest but he expressed his inability to travel to India in January.

The reasons for Biden’s decision are believed to be influenced by the State of the Union address in late January or early February, his re-election bid and Washington’s increasing focus on the Hamas-Israel conflict.

French President Macron has been invited as the Republic Day chief guest, the people cited above said.

There is no official word on the invitation yet.

New Delhi’s invitation to Macron for the Republic Day celebrations comes amid a rapid upswing in ties between the two countries including in areas of defence and security, clean energy, trade and investment and new technologies.

In July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Bastille Day parade, which is part of the French National Day celebrations, as the guest of honour.

In the same month, the defence ministry approved the purchase of 26 Rafale (marine) jets from France, primarily for deployment on board the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. France has already responded to India’s initial tender for buying the jets.

The two sides are also expanding cooperation in the maritime domain including in the Indian Ocean Region.

The two strategic partners also expressed commitment to cooperate in the co-development and co-production of advanced defence technologies, including for the benefit of third countries.

Every year, India invites world leaders to attend its Republic Day celebrations. There was no Republic Day Chief guest in 2021 and 2022 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Macron is set to be the sixth French leader to attend the Republic Day celebrations.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations.

In 2020, then Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

In 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade, while in 2018, leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries attended the celebrations.

In 2017, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest at celebrations, while then French President Francois Hollande graced the occasion in 2016.

In 2014, then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the celebrations, while Bhutan king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck attended the parade in 2013.

The heads of state and government who have attended the Republic Day celebrations include Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, John Major, Mohammed Khatami and Jacques Chirac.

The then British Prime Minister John Major had attended the celebrations in 1993, Nelson Mandela participated as then South African President in 1995 while South Korean President President Lee Myung Bak witnessed the parade in 2010.