French President Hollande to be the Chief Guest at Republic Day ceremony in New Delhi

NEW DELHI: French President Francois Hollande has been invited as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations in January 2016. If the French Presidency conveys acceptance, Hollande will be returning to India for a State visit after three years. Sources told The Sunday Express that the invitation had been sent “some weeks ago” but the French President’s state visit will assume significance in the backdrop of the Paris terror attacks last week which left 129 people dead and over 300 hundred injured. Though the French Presidency is yet to announce the visit since it is handling the aftermath of the attacks amid a national emergency, Hollande’s visit will be key to forging enhanced counter-terrorism cooperation with France , as it is already a strategic partner on defence and nuclear issues. Speaking at the ASEAN-India summit in Kuala Lumpur Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined “security threats” as one of the “global challenges”. “Terrorism has emerged as a major global challenge that affects us all here. We have excellent bilateral cooperation with ASEAN members. And, we should see how we can enhance our cooperation at the regional and international level, including through support for adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.” In the past, French Presidents and PMs have been invited as the chief guest several times. In 1998, Jacques Chirac came to India as the Republic Day chief guest as the President of France , while he had been chief guest in 1976 as Prime Minister. France has also shown interest in almost all of the BJP government’s flagship initiatives from Make in India to Digital India , from smart cities to skill development. Reference source: Indian Express

New Delhi