The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping has become a platform for discussing the challenges facing the Global South, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said before leaving for a visit to South Africa, where he is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since their brief encounter at the G-20 Bali summit last November.
Mr. Modi, who landed in South Africa’s Waterkloof Air Force Base on Tuesday, ahead of the BRICS summit to be held in Johannesburg, was received by South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile.
“BRICS has been pursuing a strong cooperation agenda across various sectors. We value that BRICS has become a platform for discussing and deliberating on issues of concern for the entire Global South, including development imperatives and reform of the multilateral system,” said Mr. Modi in a statement issued before his departure.
Mr. Xi and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who both arrived a day earlier, attended a BRICS business forum meeting along with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mr. Modi before leaving for a Leaders Retreat and will attend the day-long BRICS summit on Wednesday.
The 15th BRICS summit is the first in-person meet since 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the first since the Russian war in Ukraine, and the first time that Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi will take part in such a restricted gathering of just four leaders since the LAC stand-off began in 2020.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in the summit via video-conference while his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will officiate at BRICS events, that include an outreach event with African Union countries and other invitees from the Global South.
The Johannesburg meeting has additional significance as it will discuss expansion of the grouping by including countries like Iran, Bangladesh and other developing economies. “I look forward to interacting with a number of guest countries that have been invited to participate in this event,” said Mr. Modi. From Johannesburg, Mr. Modi will fly to Athens at the invitation of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Mr. Modi’s visit to Greece will be the first Prime Minister-level meeting from India to Athens in four decades.
“Contacts between our two civilisations stretch back over two millennia. In modern times, our ties have been strengthened by shared values of democracy, rule of law and pluralism. Cooperation in diverse sectors such as trade and investment, defence and cultural and people to people contacts have been bringing our two countries together,” said Mr. Modi.