A 33-nation block of American countries has expressed the desire to open communications with the five-country BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla told newspersons here on Monday.

India has the distinction of being the first dialogue partner of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), followed by China. Formed in late 2011, CELAC groups together all states in the Americas, barring the United States and Canada.

In August last year, Chile, the pro-tem Chairman of CELAC, along with Cuba and Venezuela, had held talks here with the then External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna for a “strategic alliance” that would include annual meetings, working together in regional organisations, and increasing commercial exchange. The troika then went to China and struck a similar alliance.

“China will be a major actor,” said Mr. Parrilla while pointing out that CELAC’s engagements with major countries following an independent foreign policy was part of the world’s quest towards multi polarity.

As the Cuban Foreign Minister pointed out, CELAC was planning its next engagement with India on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September. Though CELAC had kept out the US and one of its major demands was to end the half-century-old American economic embargo on Cuba, its members include nations being led by parties with different ideologies — from a conservative Chile to a vehemently anti-America Cuba along with several countries following middle-of-the-road policies as well.

At the second CELAC-India meeting in September, the two sides will work on the creation of a business economic development forum, an agricultural working group and an energy forum.

Earlier, at a talk at the Indian Council of World Affairs, the Minister pointed out that CELAC consisted of 600 million people, it was free from wars and had abundant energy and water resources. “We see an opportunity for mutually beneficial economic relations with India,” he said. India’s stewardship of the Non-Aligned Movement, similar views on global issues and a proactive approach by Indian diplomats in approaching CELAC were the factors behind the nation being selected as the first dialogue partner, he pointed out.

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