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France's Macron visits India, eyes trade deals

Macron was met by a red carpet at Jaipur International Airport

Macron was met by a red carpet at Jaipur International Airport

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in India on Thursday for a two day visit that includes a red carpet welcome ceremony, talks on potential trade and defense deals, and celebrations for India's Republic Day.

Macron's first stop was the city of Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan where he was welcomed by a red carpet and a parade of decorated elephants.

Other welcome plans include military march past with massed ranks of tanks, dancing troupes, camel cavalry and a fighter jet fly-past.

Later, Macron will attend a state dinner where he will be met by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jaipur has been decorated with posters of Macron and Modi. During his stay in Jaipur, Macron is expected to visit several cultural and historical monuments, Indian news website Mint reported.

Macron will be the guest of honor on Friday for India's 75th Republic Day in New Delhi, which celebrates the anniversary of the country's constitution. Modi was guest of honor at France's annual Bastille Day celebrations last July.

France eyes lucrative deals with India

Macron's trip to India comes amid strong prospects of further negotiations on multi-billion dollar deals for French "Rafale" fighter jets and

France is India's second largest arms supplier and has been one of its closest partners in Europe for decades.

The French presidency said that the trip will "consolidate and deepen diplomatic and economic relations."

The Indian Foreign Ministry said Paris and New Delhi are "strategic partners."

Ahead of the visit, the French presidency said India was "a key partner in contributing to international peace and security."

Experts in India say Macron's trip is also likely to give a boost to the ongoing talks of a trade agreement between India and the European Union .

However, French officials have said that the trip help cement the partnership between the two countries but no agreement in the defence sector is expected.

mfi/wmr (Reuters, AFP)