By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI, India (AA) - Ten Southeast Asian leaders were present in New Delhi on Friday as India celebrated the 69th Republic Day by displaying its military might in an event overseen by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the guests after which Kovind hoisted the Indian flag to a 21-gun salute.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister paid homage to soldiers who died in the line of duty.
Leaders from Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia were present as guests of honor.
These leaders were invited by Narendra Modi to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-India (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ties.
Inviting Southeast Asian leaders has been seen as a move by India to counter the growing influence of China in the region.
Braving the cold weather and dense fog, thousands of citizens were present to witness the nearly 90-minute program amid unprecedented security in the capital for the event.
According to Press Trust of India, a massive ground-to-air security apparatus was put in place in the national capital.
Local media reported that nearly 60,000 security personnel from the Delhi Police and central security forces were deployed in Central Delhi.