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France celebrates Bastille Day with pomp, a tribute to India and extra police to prevent new unrest

Fighter jets and military helicopters whooshed Friday right above the site where 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk was killed last month, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, on their way toward the Arc de Triomphe and the VIP guests watching the parade. The streets were unusually quiet as local residents gathered at Nanterre’s Nelson Mandela Square to watch the flyby.

India was the guest of honor at this year’s Bastille Day parade, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi watching alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. About 240 Indian troops led the march down the Champs-Elysees before thousands of French forces, and French-made Indian warplanes joined the aerial display.

France often showcases international partners on Bastille Day, and the choice of India comes as France looks to further strengthen cooperation on fighting climate change, military sales and countering China’s growing influence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. But human rights were missing from the vast agenda, despite concerns raised by European lawmakers, rights groups and others.

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