As French President Emmanuel Macron lands in Jaipur Thursday afternoon, India is rolling out the red carpet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his signature style, joining him at a roadshow called the Shobha Yatra.
During the Shobha Yatra, Macron and Modi will travel from Jantar Mantar to Hawa Mahal 6 pm onward, covering a kilometre in the Pink City.
This roadshow will be similar to the one Prime Minister Modi had hosted for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September 2017 in an open-top vehicle in Ahmedabad. In February 2020, also in Ahmedabad, he led a red-carpet welcome for US President Donald Trump who was greeted by people of the city.
“This is one of the unique formats, where a visiting foreign leader is given a royal style welcome involving people of the country,” a senior official, in charge of the arrangements, said.
Modi and Macron will meet for dinner at Jaipur’s Taj Rambagh Palace, where they will hold a conversation on bilateral and global issues of concern and interest.
Macron, who will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi on January 26, will begin his Jaipur trip by visiting Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal on Thursday. He will be the sixth leader from France to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
Sources said Macron’s visit is a unique reciprocal gesture involving visits by Heads of States on successive national days – the PM visited France on its National Day on July 13-14, 2023.
While this visit caps the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Strategic Partnership between the two countries, the two leaders have met half a dozen times in 2023 alone, including on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi last September.
“With France, we have a special relationship. Firstly, the visit caps a milestone year of the 25th anniversary of our strategic partnership. India-France Strategic Partnership, the first that India signed with any Western country, has seen all round progress – in bilateral, regional and international context. India and France have traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations and share a deep and enduring Strategic Partnership covering all aspects of bilateral cooperation which involves a strategic component,” an official said.
Launched on January 26, 1998, the Strategic Partnership that was the first-ever for India among the Western countries and a first for France outside the EU, embodies the core vision of both countries to develop their respective strategic independence by drawing on a concrete bilateral cooperation.
Defence and security, civil nuclear matters and space constitute principal pillars of this partnership that now includes a strong Indo-Pacific component.
In recent years, this partnership has broadened to domains including counter-terrorism, maritime security, climate change, renewable and sustainable development, digitalisation and cyber security among others. “Discussions will take place on all these issues,” the official said.
Sources said that the salience of the partnership is growing in the changing world, complex geo-political environment and in pursuit of respective national ambitions.
Modi and Macron are also expected to deliberate on expanding maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the situation in the Red Sea, the Hamas-Israel conflict and the war in Ukraine.
On Friday, at the Republic Day parade where Macron will be chief guest, a 95-member marching contingent and 33-member band contingent from France will take part in the parade. Two Rafale fighter jets and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French Air Force will also feature in the parade. The French marching contingent from the French Foreign Legion features six Indians.
Macron will attend the ‘At Home’ reception by President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He is scheduled to hold a meeting with Murmu at 7.10 pm, and depart Delhi at 10.05 pm.