President of France Francois Hollande will be the Chief Guest at the upcoming Republic Day celebrations, it was officially announced today.
"We are happy that the President of France Francois Hollande has accepted our invitation to be the Chief Guest at India's 67th Republic Day celebrations on 26th January 2016," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
"We look forward to welcome him warmly in India. We are Confident that this visit will further strengthen the robust strategic partnership between Indian and France and the special ties shared by our two countries," Swarup added.
Importantly, France was the first country with which India established a Strategic Partnership in 1998 after New Delhi did nuclear tests. The two countries have close cooperation in defence, space, civil-nuclear and security issues along with strong trade and investment and cultural ties. France is also the first country with which India entered into civil nuclear energy cooperation in 2008 after obtaining the NSG waiver.
This will be the fifth time that a French leader will be a Chief Guest at India's Republic Day celebrations -- the maximum number from any country so far. Earlier leaders from that country had presided in 1976, 1980, 1998 and 2008. Bhutan has presided four times so far in 1954, 1984, 2005 and 2013.