France is the most frequently invited country to India's Republic Day parade
The stage is set for French President Emmanuel Macron's forthcoming state visit to India with his Diplomatic Advisor Emmanuel Bonne holding a series of preparatory meetings in New Delhi last week.

He met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday (January12, 2024). Their discussions, centered around bilateral issues and mutual global concerns, emboldens the growing strength of the partnership between the two countries.

"Glad to meet Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to President of France. Spoke about strong India-France convergence on multiple issues. Also shared perspectives on global developments of mutual concern.

Look forward to President @EmmanuelMacron’s State visit for #RepublicDay2024," EAM Jaishankar posted on social media platform X.

The French President's Diplomatic Advisor also met with India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during his stay in New Delhi.

These discussions, serving as a precursor to President Macron's visit, underscored the depth of preparation and collaboration between the two countries. The talks aimed not only to lay the groundwork for the Republic Day event but also to deepen the comprehensive partnership between France and India. Key aspects of this bilateral relationship were explored, focusing on advanced technologies and the global commons of cyber, maritime, and space.

France enjoys a distinguished status in its relationship with India, notably being the most frequently invited country to India's Republic Day parade. The tradition began in 1976 with an invitation to then-French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and continued with visits from other prominent French leaders, including Presidents Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François Hollande.

The significance of President Macron's attendance goes beyond ceremonial importance. The year 2023 marked the silver jubilee of the India-France Strategic Partnership. This milestone was celebrated earlier last year during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France, where a detailed roadmap outlining the next 25 years of cooperation was unveiled. This ambitious plan includes joint initiatives in strengthening India's submarine fleet, French assistance in developing the "Shakti Engine," and collaborative efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.

The context of President Macron's visit is further enriched by the recent defence agreement between India and France, involving India's acquisition of 26 Rafale (marine) fighter jets from France, primarily for use on the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Additionally, both countries are deepening their maritime security collaboration, especially in the Indian Ocean Region, and are committed to jointly developing and producing cutting-edge defense technologies, potentially benefiting third countries.

President Macron's visit is a strategic pin point to further the India-France partnership. This partnership is further reinforced by their collaborative efforts across various domains, including defense, security, civilian nuclear cooperation, and emerging technologies. The visit is expected to be marked by the unveiling of significant bilateral agreements.