Foreign ministers of India, China, Russia to meet at BRICS session today

Updated on May 19, 2022 01:48 AM IST
The BRICS meeting of the foreign ministers via video, to be hosted by China, will take place in the backdrop of the Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the dragging Covid-19 pandemic, which is showing signs of resurgence in pockets of the world.
While China has blamed the ongoing war in Ukraine on the US and NATO’s aggressive expansion plans, the remaining three have maintained neutral position, declined to call it an “invasion” and called for negotiations to end the conflict. (REUTERS File Photo)
While China has blamed the ongoing war in Ukraine on the US and NATO’s aggressive expansion plans, the remaining three have maintained neutral position, declined to call it an “invasion” and called for negotiations to end the conflict. (REUTERS File Photo)

Foreign ministers of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) will meet on Thursday via video link in the run up to the bloc’s leadership summit late next month, the Chinese foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.

The meeting of the foreign ministers, to be hosted by China, will take place in the backdrop of the Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the dragging Covid-19 pandemic, which is showing signs of resurgence in pockets of the world.

It will be the first time that Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar, his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, Brazil’s Carlos Alberto França, and South Africa’s minister for international relations and cooperation Naledi Pandor will meet on the same platform after Moscow launched a war against Kyiv in February.

While China has blamed the ongoing war in Ukraine on the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) aggressive expansion plans, all but absolving Russia, the remaining three have maintained neutral position, declined to call it an “invasion”, and have instead called for negotiations to end the conflict.

Despite the seeming consensus within the bloc, the situation in Ukraine will likely be a sensitive topic for tomorrow’s meeting, and more so for the June summit, given the global opinion it has generated.

At least one set of bilateral ties within BRICS, between India and China, is already under strain because of the two-year-long border tension in eastern Ladakh.

Announcing Thursday’s meeting, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin said that on the sidelines of the main meeting, a BRICS-plus dialogue with foreign ministers from other emerging market nations will also be held.

Wang did not share the names of countries to be included in tomorrow’s BRICS-plus dialogue or for the June summit but Argentina announced last week it has been invited to take part in both.

Asked to comment on China’s expectations from the foreign ministers’ meeting, Wang did not mention the war in Ukraine but said that as the current BRICS chair, China looks forward to “…enhancing communication and coordination with fellow BRICS partners on the new challenges of the current international situation and major international and regional issues.”.

“Under the strategic leadership of BRICS leaders, the foreign ministers’ meetings have played an important role in strengthening political mutual trust and deepening political-security cooperation among the five countries,” Wang added.

“We will send a clear message of the BRICS countries working together in solidarity, upholding true multilateralism, staying united in fighting Covid-19 and promoting peace and development,” he said.

On the sidelines of this year’s foreign ministers’ meeting, Wang said a BRICS-plus dialogue will be held where BRICS foreign ministers will exchange views with foreign ministers of some emerging markets and developing countries on global governance.

“It is believed that this dialogue will further enhance solidarity, forge consensus and give emerging markets and developing countries a bigger say in global governance so as to better safeguard common interests,” Wang said.

On the Covid-19 pandemic, Wang said that in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, “…the BRICS mechanism has special significance for deepening cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries and promoting post-covid world economic recovery.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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