India on Thursday defended its decision to invite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, with a senior official saying he is an elected leader of a democratic country.
Bolsonaro will be on a state visit to India during January 24-27, accompanied by eight Ministers, four members of Parliament and a large business delegation. The two sides are expected to sign some 15 agreements during the visit, including on cyber security, oil and gas, bio-energy and investment protection.
Asked at a news briefing about the government’s decision to invite the controversial Brazilian leader, Vijay Thakur Singh, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, said: “President Bolsonaro is an elected leader in a democratic country which is an emerging power in the region. It is a country with which we have very strong and substantive relations [and] many areas of convergence.
“We give great importance to engaging with Brazil and its leaders to take forward areas of convergence and to build our relationship…We will be warmly welcoming him as an honoured guest to the Republic Day and it is a sign of his commitment to building the relationship between the two countries.”
This is the third time a Brazilian president will be chief guest at the Republic Day parade. This is also Bolsonaro’s first visit to India after he assumed office in January 2019.
Singh said India and Brazil, as democracies, have “shared values and shared approaches”. She added, “As two developing countries we have similar developmental and global aspirations, this has led to convergence of mutual interest in many areas.”
Bilateral trade is currently worth $8.2 billion, with Indian exports accounting for $3.8 billion, which includes agro-chemicals, synthetic yarns, auto parts, pharmaceuticals and petroleum products.