US Pacific Fleet commander to witness R-Day parade

January 24th, 2009 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) Commander of US Pacific Fleet Admiral Robert Willard will be on a three-day visit to India from Sunday, during which he will also witness the Republic Day parade at Rajpath, an official said here Saturday.Willard is responsible for the world’s largest fleet command encompassing 100 million square miles - more than half the earth’s surface - from the west coast of the US to the eastern shore of Africa. The Pacific fleet consists of nearly 180 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 125,000 sailors, marines and civilians.

“He will arrive in Delhi Jan 25 in a US military aircraft. On Jan 26 he will witness the Republic Day parade and will attend the reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan hosted by the president,” a senior naval official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Though there have been guests from the US during Republic Day parade, no dignitary from the United States has ever been a chief guest at any of India’s Republic Day parades. France has been represented four times, the maximum, through Jacques Chirac, first as Prime Minister in 1976 and later as President in 1998, President Valery Girard de Estaing in 1980 and President Nicolas Sarkozy last year.

“During his stay in Delhi, Willard will meet Indian Navy chief (Admiral Sureesh Mehta). Willard will Jan 27 depart for Mumbai and will meet the Fleet Commander of Western Naval Command,” the official added.

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