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25 Jan, 2024 18:14

Modi and Macron chat over cup of tea ahead of India’s Republic Day

The French president, who will be chief guest at a New Delhi military parade on Friday, toured the city of Jaipur with the Indian PM 
Modi and Macron chat over cup of tea ahead of India’s Republic Day

French President Emmanuel Macron landed in India on Thursday ahead of the country’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26, where he will be the chief guest. Macron started his visit by traveling to the city of Jaipur, a popular tourist attraction in Rajasthan state, where he was received by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The two leaders traveled in an open-top vehicle through a short stretch in the heart of the city, beginning from Jantar Mantar, an 18th-century observatory which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Modi then treated Macron to a cup of masala tea at a local stall. 

The two leaders are expected to hold bilateral talks covering economic, defense, space, and cybersecurity, before heading to New Delhi, where they will oversee a Republic Day parade. A 95-member French marching contingent accompanied by a military band will take part in the event. Macron’s visit marks France’s sixth participation as chief guest in India’s national day parade – the most of any other nation. Republic Day marks the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950, symbolizing the country’s transformation into a republic.  

Last year, Modi attended France’s Bastille Day Parade as guest of honor at the invitation of Macron. During the visit, the countries drew up a bilateral roadmap for the next 25 years. The document covers the strengthening of economic ties, as well as identifying joint initiatives on areas including renewable energy, green hydrogen, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors.   

France is keen to bolster collaboration with India across various sectors, from energy to space and defense, “despite frictions” over the two countries’ positions on the Ukraine conflict, the AP reported. India has not supported Western sanctions against Russia and has expanded its engagement with Moscow in the past two years.   

India’s plans to procure 26 French Rafale fighter aircraft for its navy are expected to feature on the agenda for the talks with Macron. The purchase was approved by India’s Defense Acquisition Council last year, but the deal is yet to be inked. The council also greenlit the purchase of three Scorpene submarines, jointly developed by France and Spain.   

In a statement, Macron’s office reaffirmed his commitment to fostering closer dialogue with India, recognizing its significance as a “key player on the international scene” in terms of demography and in economic, scientific, and diplomatic areas. 

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