French Prez to be R-Day Chief Guest

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New Delhi: French President Francois Hollande will be the Chief Guest at the 2016 Republic Day in India. Hollande, would be the fourth French leader to be chief guest at the R-Day ceremony since 1976. Jacques Chirac has been chief guest twice in 1976, as Prime Minister, and in 1998, as President.

President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, in 1980, and President Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2008, were also chief guests. But Hollande will be the first to visit India twice in a single term.

Modi and Hollande, met in New York September 2015 on the margins of the UN General Assembly. They are expected to meet again in December in Paris on the sidelines of the UN’s climate change conference. PM Modi is likely to hand over the formal invite to Hollande at the start of the climate summit.

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Hollande wasn’t the only candidate India considered for chief guest at the 2016 Republic Day. Other leaders whose names were discussed as possible chief guests within the corridors of the ministry of external affairs were British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.