If for the 2015 parade, the Modi government invited the US President Barack Obama, India in all certainty will be hosting French President Hollande as the chief guest for its 67th Republic Day celebrations in January 2016.
The development comes at a time when France is gripped in a state of emergency and Hollande has vowed attacks on the Islamic State (IS) that claimed responsibility for the November Paris terrorist attack. Importantly, France has emerged as a key strategic partner on defense and nuclear issues and with the gruesome Paris attacks; the counter-terrorism will be a key area of cooperation.
Moreover, France has always supported India’s bid to become a permanent member at the UN Security Council and has also favored India’s membership to the export control bodies, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). It was one of the nations which wanted India to get exempted from the NSG, when India was negotiating the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
In 2008, the then France President Nicolas Sarkozy was invited as the chief guest for the republic day function, the choice of which solely lies with the national government in place depending on various factors including strategic and diplomatic, business interest and international geo-politics.
A formal invitation has been sent to France but a confirmation is still awaited.