PM Modi confirms he will travel to South Africa for Brics Summit. What it means | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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PM Modi confirms he will travel to South Africa for Brics Summit. What it means

Aug 04, 2023 04:39 AM IST

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi reiterated India’s position that Brics should be expanded through “full consultation and consensus” among members of the bloc.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday confirmed his in-person participation in the Brics Summit in Johannesburg during August 22-24, ending speculation that the meet could become a virtual affair following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to attend.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(PTI)

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Watch: Xi Behind Modi's BRICS Decision? PM To Travel To South Africa For Summit Despite No Putin

During a phone call with Modi on Thursday evening, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa invited the prime minister to the Brics Summit and briefed him on preparations for the meeting. “PM accepted the invitation and conveyed that he looked forward to his visit to Johannesburg to participate in the summit,” the external affairs ministry said in a readout of the conversation.

The ministry had earlier described as “speculative” media reports that Modi might skip the summit of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Russia has said Putin will join the summit virtually while foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will lead a delegation to Johannesburg.

It is understood that Ramaphosa spoke to Modi on Thursday to ensure his in-person attendance at the summit. The two leaders “positively assessed” the progress in bilateral cooperation and discussed a number of regional and global issues, according to the readout.

Ramaphosa conveyed his full support for India’s initiatives under its G20 presidency and said he looked forward to visiting India to attend the G20 Summit.

ALSO READ: Exercise caution on plans to expand Brics

Modi’s in-person participation could set the stage for a possible meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of the summit. The two leaders have not met since the start of the military standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May 2020, though they exchanged pleasantries and talked of the need to stabilise bilateral ties during a brief encounter at a dinner during last year’s G20 Summit in Indonesia.

A contentious proposal for expanding Brics by admitting new members is expected to figure prominently at the summit, people familiar with the matter said. Argentina, Cuba, Congo, Iran, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are among some 30 countries that have expressed interest in joining the bloc.

Brics works by consensus and all five members of the grouping have to agree on new entrants. India’s greatest concern has been the entry of countries that can make Brics a China-centric bloc, the people said. The Indian side is open to the expansion of Brics by consensus and the entry of partners such as the UAE, though it has reservations about letting in countries perceived as close to China, the people added.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi reiterated India’s position that Brics should be expanded through “full consultation and consensus” among members of the bloc.

“We have talked about India’s position on expansion, we have clarified our position in the past. As mandated by the leaders last year, Brics members are internally discussing the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures for the Brics expansion process on the basis of full consultation and consensus,” he told a weekly media briefing.

Bagchi dismissed reports about India opposing the expansion. “As our external affairs minister had mentioned, we are approaching this with an open mind and a positive outlook. We have seen some baseless speculation that India has reservations against expansion. This is simply not true,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Brics will be strengthened by adding new members. “Of course, we believe that in one form or another, the expansion of Brics will contribute to the further development and strengthening of this organisation,” he said.

Peskov was commenting on Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s remarks that it was “extremely important” for Saudi Arabia to join Brics along with Argentina and the UAE. Peskov said Russia has constructive ties with all these three countries but “we don’t think we need to get ahead of ourselves” regarding specific candidate nations before the issue is discussed at the Brics summit.

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Watch: Xi Behind Modi's BRICS Decision? PM To Travel To South Africa For Summit Despite No Putin

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