In a first, French contingent to join in Republic Day parade

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) For the first time ever, a foreign contingent will participate in the Republic Day parade — French troops will march down the Rajpath on January 26, official sources said.

Sources from the defence ministry said that a contingent of the French army will participate in the march.

The French contingent will march down the Rajpath as French President Francois Hollande will be seated as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year.

In 2009, India participated in the Bastille Day Military Parade or 14 July Military Parade, the oldest regular military parade in the world.

Then President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to attend the event as the guest of honour. Soldiers including jawans of Maratha Light Infantry Regiment Centre (MLIRC) marched down the Champs Elysees to the sound of an Indian military band playing Indian martial tunes including “Saare Jahan Se Achcha”.

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This is the fifth time a French leader will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade, the highest for any country. Earlier leaders from that country had presided in 1976, 1980, 1998 and 2008.

Defence relations between the two nations have been growing close, with the deal for buying 36 Rafale jets, which was finalised recently, being the latest feat.

Meanwhile, a French contingent comprising 56 personnel of 35th Infantry Regiment of 7th Armoured Brigade, which had taken part in the Afghan war, arrived in Jodhpur to take part in eight-day long counter insurgency joint exercise ‘Shakti-2016’.

The contingent, led by Major Thibaut De Lacoste Lareymondie arrived on Thursday at the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges.

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