French President Francois Hollande will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2016 and his visit is expected to further strengthen the robust strategic partnership between the two countries, it was officially announced on Wednesday.
"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.
Narendra Modi meets French President Francois Hollande. File photo AFP Narendra Modi meets French President Francois Hollande.
"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 out two countries," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
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.
Significantly, 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 a civil nuclear energy cooperation in 2008 after obtaining the NSG waiver.
Later French Embassy also issued a release announcing Hollande's visit and said, this invitation conveys the excellent quality and dynamism of the strategic partnership between India and France, which will be further strengthened on this occasion.
"This visit will also follow on from the Paris Climate Conference, at which India played a decisive role in reaching an ambitious agreement," the release added.