Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave on Monday for a three-day visit to South Africa to attend the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) summit. He will also hold bilateral talks with South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Dilma Roussef.
Besides seeking to increase cohesion in this block of democracies from three continents, the Prime Minister, in his departure statement, indicated that most burning issues of global concern will also be on the table.
Officials said the summit would focus on four main aspects — global-political, social aspects of globalisation, south-south cooperation and intra-IBSA trade ties. The security aspect would also receive attention, especially the maritime factor in view of piracy, described by Dr. Singh as leading to a “state of siege.”
The IBSA, which will try to prove its relevance after the inclusion of South Africa in BRICS (IBSA plus Russia and China), has attempted to intervene in the Syrian crises as all three members are non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
In fact, the UNSC issue will be discussed with greater frankness than at the BRICS meet because all three are aspirants to a seat in an expanded Council. Diplomats believe that Russia and China are likely to actively back these countries if they are able to garner the support of most of the developing world. South Africa's position on joining UNSC is muted, as it has committed to falling in line with the African Union's unanimous position on the issue.
Ahead of the G-20 meeting in France, the forum will be an useful opportunity for the three leaders to coordinate their positions on financial reforms and the need for an alternate global reserve currency besides the dollar.
“I also look forward to an exchange of views with our IBSA partners on the current global economic and financial situation especially in the context of the forthcoming G-20 Summit in France,” the Prime Minister said.
Another important issue is to develop a largely common approach at meetings of the Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol this year and next year's Rio+20 Conference. India is taking a long-term view of the scenario, in which it fears getting isolated and pressurised by the West.
With four IBSA summits behind him, Dr. Singh noted that the “greater cooperation across a wider canvas” and “above all, the idea of three large developing democracies, Brazil, India and South Africa, working together in a highly complex global environment has taken root, and has received universal welcome by our peoples.”
The IBSA's focus of south-south cooperation will also receive considerable attention, especially in the wake of the large number of official and civil society meetings held in the three countries ahead of the summit.
Officials are heartened by the recognition given to the modest IBSA Fund, which last year won the U.N. Millennium Development Goals award for south-south cooperation.