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India: Macron attends India's 75th Republic Day parade

Thousands lined the streets at a ceremonial boulevard in the heart of capital New Delhi

Thousands lined the streets at a ceremonial boulevard in the heart of capital New Delhi

French President Emmanuel Macron was chief guest at India's annual Republic Day celeberations on Friday in the capital New Delhi.

Indian President Draupadi Murmu escorted Macron in a ceremonial horse-drawn carriage from the nearby president's palace to the viewing stand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Macron there.

"A great honor for France. Thank you, India," Macron wrote online, sharing a video clip of part of the parade.

A French 30-member band and 90-member marching group joined the parade. A French transport aircraft and two fighter jets from the French air force joined 54 Indian air force aircraft in a flyover.

Biggest military parade in the nation

The military parade is the biggest the nation hosts to celebrate its constitution coming into effect on January 26, 1950, following the country's independence from British rule in 1947.

The colorful parade showcases the country's military power, with tanks and missile systems on show, as well as precision marching by members of armed forces.

The parade, broadcast live and watched by millions of Indians across the country, also showcases the country's cultural heritage, with floats and people in costumes.

What to know about India and France bilateral ties

France has been one of India's closest partners in Europe for decades. Even when many western nations imposed sanctions on New Delhi for conducting nuclear tests in 1998, the French did not condemn India.

India and France also have strong defense ties. The Indian goverment gave an initial approval last year to buy 26 Rafale jets and jointly produce three Scorpene class submarines worth around 800 billion rupees ($9.62 billion or €8.84 billion).

But the deals are yet to be finalized. France is also keen to enhance cooperation in the space and atomic energy sectors. Officials in Paris and Delhi had already said that no major outcome was expected during Macron's trip to India.

"The idea is to build defense supply chains that can meet India and France's defense needs," India's Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters on Friday. Kwatra said both countries were exploring joint satellite launches.

Macron accepted the invitation to be a chief guest at the Republic Day parade — India welcomes a different foreign digntary each year — after US President Joe Biden was unavailable. Modi was the guest of honor at the French Bastille Day celebrations last year.

rm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)