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Russia To Host Extraordinary Conference of BRICS Leaders on April 28, on Combatting the Pandemic

April 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—Since January, Russia has assumed the rotating presidency of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov heads the foreign ministers of that association. At Russia’s initiative, they will hold an extraordinary videoconference on April 28 to discuss possible joint measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a recent statement that the conference will

“focus on aspects of the influence of the crisis prompted by the outbreak of the coronavirus infection on international relations. The ministers will exchange opinions on possible joint measures the five countries could take to oppose COVID-19 and address the financial, trade-economic, and social consequences of the pandemics.... The parties will also consider relevant aspects of the development of a five-sided strategic partnership, including a calendar of events during Russia’s presidency of the BRICS this year.”

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated in a separate launch of the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics report on Russia’s foreign policy, that “Our organization keeps an eye on the fight against COVID-19. Russia considers various aspects of the issue during its chairmanship of BRICS. Health experts maintain contacts. We will also consider various political aspects of the situation within BRICS.” He said that the BRICS could be a very fruitful collaboration, “given the scientific capabilities of its members, particularly in the fields of health care and pharmaceutical industry.”

Additionally, on April 23, the Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Planning Department, Pavel Knyazev, announced plans to organize joint exercises on combatting various epidemics. “There are plans to hold joint exercises with the participation of mobile anti-epidemic units,” he said, adding that Russia has encouraged the development of a BRICS center for vaccine research and development, and that BRICS experts have already begun to develop a mechanism of early infectious disease prevention and diagnosis. He stressed that this kind of cooperation is crucial and urgent.

Also on April 23, TASS reported that the BRICS member states may decide to increase their funding of the World Health Organization, because of the U.S. decision to suspend its funding of the organization, and the BRICS may announce further collaboration with other states, prioritizing assistance to those with weaker health-care systems.

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