NEW DELHI: India celebrated its Republic Day yesterday with a show of military might, including nuclear-capable missiles designed to reach Pakistan.
Security was tight as authorities shut off the airspace over New Delhi, where the main parade to mark the 53rd anniversary of the country's founding as a republic was being held, and in the financial centre Bombay on the west coast.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, the guest-of-honour, sat with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in a bullet-proof enclosure as a 21-gun salute kicked off the parade.
On Saturday, Khatami and Indian Prime Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee joined a host of nations in seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis in Iraq under the supervision of the United Nations.
India and Iran have long had good relations and few in India share Washington's view of Iran as a part of an “axis of evil” along with Iraq and North Korea.
India's 1.1 million-strong military was in full swing yesterday after last year's truncated show because the bulk of the force was deployed on the border with Pakistan following an attack on the Indian parliament, blamed on Pakistan-based guerillas.
Both nations ended the military standoff late last year, but tense ties were further frayed this week after they expelled each other's diplomats on grounds of spying.
A model of the nuclear-capable Prithvi missile, with a range of 150km, was on show at the parade. – Reuters
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