French President Emmanuel Macron is set to be the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2024.
This decision came after the United States declined to accept the invitation extended to President Joe Biden, as reported by the Press Trust of India. Macron's attendance would mark the sixth time a French leader has participated in the celebrations.
- With Biden's focus on domestic politics cited as the reason for the declined invitation, India found itself in the position of getting an alternative chief guest merely six weeks before the grand event.
- His inability to attend could also be attributed to the war in Gaza, between Hamas and Israel.
- Speculation arose within diplomatic circles, with names such as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and leaders from West Asian countries circulating as potential replacements.
- Although official confirmation is pending, PTI, citing government sources said that Macron is expected to attend, making the formal announcement imminent.
- Macron's anticipated attendance comes against the backdrop of his recent visit to Delhi for the G20 Summit and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bastille Day celebration in Paris, where India's tri-services contingent participated in the parade.
- The announcement also coincides with reports of France submitting a bid to India's defence ministry for the sale of 26 Rafale-Marine combat jets, a deal estimated at Rs 50,000 crore.
- This potential collaboration aims to bolster India's naval capabilities, complementing the existing fleet of 36 Rafale jets acquired in 2016.
- Beyond defence, India and France continue to collaborate on global issues, ranging from counter-terrorism to climate change.
- With both nations being part of trilateral partnerships focused on maritime security and resilient supply chains, their cooperation extends beyond ceremonial events to strategic initiatives on the global stage.