BRICS countries are meeting with “friends” seeking closer ties amid efforts to expand the bloc

  • BRICS is considering expanding the 5-country bloc
  • Interested countries have sent officials to South Africa for talks
  • The Alliance is seen as the antithesis of Western power

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Senior officials from more than a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, held talks about forging closer ties with the BRICS bloc of major emerging economies on Friday as they met to deepen and solidify ties. as a counterweight to the West.

The BRICS nations, which now consist of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are considering expanding their membership, and a growing number of countries have shown interest in joining.

Once seen as a loose association of disparate emerging economies, the BRICS have taken concrete shape in recent years, spurred initially by China, and since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022, with added impetus from Russia.

In opening remarks to Friday’s debates, host South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor spoke of the bloc as a champion of the developing world, which she said has been abandoned by rich countries and global institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cooperation in the world has faltered. Developed countries have not fulfilled their obligations to the developing world and are trying to transfer all their responsibility to the global south,” Bandur said.

An official program showed that Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Comoros, Gabon and Kazakhstan have all sent representatives to Cape Town for talks called “BRICS Friends”.

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Egypt, Argentina, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau and Indonesia were already participating.

Other countries echoed Pandor’s denunciation of rich countries. DRC’s foreign minister said developed countries lack the political will to promote collective peace and prosperity.

“My country … urges the BRICS countries to bring about change and establish a new international order,” Congolese Foreign Minister Christophe Lutendola Abala said in a statement.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it wanted to join the bloc and hoped that the new membership mechanism would be determined “as soon as possible”.

expanding block

China said last year it wanted the bloc to start a process to accept new members. Other members indicated which countries they would like to join. But officials said on Thursday there was still work to be done and seemed aware of the need to proceed with caution.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar said Thursday’s talks included deliberations on guidelines, standards, criteria and procedures for what an enlarged BRICS bloc would look like.

“This work is still in progress,” he said.

South African Pandor said foreign ministers aim to complete work on a framework for accepting new members before BRICS leaders meet at a summit in Johannesburg in August.

Preparations for this summit are moving forward under a cloud of controversy over the possible attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been the target of an injunction issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As a member of the International Criminal Court, South Africa will face pressure to arrest Putin if he travels to the summit. Pretoria said it was still examining its legal options for hosting him.

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Additional reporting by Karen du Plessis, Bargav Acharya and Nellie Bitton in Johannesburg and Krishn Kaushik; Editing by Joe Bavier, Mark Heinrichs, and Angus MacSwan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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