The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) grouping will become BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa, according to sources in the government.

The third BRIC summit in China next year will see South African President Jacob Zuma present as an observer.

Membership of the soon-to-be five nation grouping will then be frozen for some time. This means that aspirants for membership like Egypt and Indonesia will have to wait till the BRICS stabilises.

India is comfortable with the planned inclusion of South Africa as both countries consult each other on a wide variety of international issues. The G-4 countries (Japan-India-Germany-Brazil) regularly have consultations with South Africa on the expansion of the U.N. Security Council to include more permanent members. “By most calculations and any yardstick, South Africa has good credentials to represent Africa on the UNSC,” the sources said.

The BRICS will add more muscle to the original four-nation team in pressing for reforms in multilateral financial institutions and G-20 meetings based on the principle of multi-polarity. This has led to the BRIC emerging as a symbol of gradual transfer of economic power from the West to emerging economies.

On climate change, with the exception of Russia, the others form the BASIC that pushes the interests of developing countries and thwarts attempts by the West to impose its agenda. The emerging countries consistently push for a fair and effective solution to the climate change issue, while reflecting the charter of the U.N. Framework Convention, especially the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities

The stage for South Africa's inclusion will be set with the expected presence of its Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the next BRIC Foreign Ministers' meeting that will be held early next year in China. Before that the issue will be discussed during a RIC (Russia-India-China) meeting scheduled in Russia, where Sergei Lavrov, S.M. Krishna and Yang Jiechi have confirmed their attendance.

Though South Africa's economy has faltered, its presence at a vital point on the world's global commons makes its inclusion vital. Besides climate change and international economic crises, South Africa also has a common view on other pressing problems such as Iran. It agrees with other emerging economies for a diplomatic solution and does not believe the U.S. and the European Union strategy to keep on tightening the sanctions screw is an answer.

South Africa's presence would, however, detract from the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), which diplomats feel has not gained much traction despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh observing at its last summit of the trilateral having come into its own.

Dr. Singh had parried suggestions to include China by pointing out that the three nations were large democracies from three continents.

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