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After Cape Town Meeting, BRICS Foreign Ministers Discuss Expansion, August Summit

June 5, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In the aftermath of the June 1-2 BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting and the expanded “Friends of BRICS” gathering which followed it in Cape Town, South Africa, the Foreign Ministers of current BRICS member nations discussed perspectives for expansion of the group into “BRICS-Plus,” given the large number of countries seeking membership. There is general concern that this process be approached with care, given the diversity and different levels of economic development of the nations applying.

In a discussion among themselves, reported by New Delhi Television (NDTV) on June 3, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar observed that membership expansion is still “a work in progress.” The five current members are approaching it with a positive intention and an open mind, responding to requests to formulate guiding principles, standards and the procedures for admission, he said. Aspects to be examined include first, how the existing BRICS members work with each other. Second, how they engage with non-BRICS countries. And thirdly, “how we look at possible BRICS expansion—what will be the appropriate format for that is something we need to work on.”

Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira agreed, adding that “BRICS is a brand and an asset, so we have to take care of it, because it means and represents a lot.” The BRICS represent 40% of the world’s population, he added, which makes it an important asset. “Maybe because of this big success, it has attracted the attention of many other countries in the 15 years” since BRICS was first founded.

In a similar vein, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented that it wasn’t so surprising that so many countries sought to join the BRICS because it symbolizes the multipolar world “and the attraction of more than a dozen countries to BRICS is a testimony to that.”

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu commented enthusiastically that the model of the “BRICS-Plus” that China had proposed in 2022 when it was the BRICS rotating chair was developing “very fast,” and that this has been very important because it has provided a platform for the “solidarity and cooperation between the developing countries and the emerging market economies.” China is very pleased to see how this model is developing, he said. “We welcome the intention of those countries to join the BRICS and we expect more countries to join our BRICS family.” This, he said, “is in very sharp contrast to some countries’ small circle. I believe the enlargement of the BRICs will be beneficial to the BRICS countries, beneficial to developing countries and will increase the representation and influence of this mechanism.”

South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, who hosted the June BRICS meeting, reported that it had concluded that there was not yet a “useful document” on the matter of expansion, and that once one is available that “offers clear guidance,” it will be submitted to the BRICS heads of state summit which meets in Johannesburg on Aug. 22-24. That gathering will also include a “BRICS-Plus” component, she said, so the entire summit will be quite large. African countries, as well as chairs of various regional community bodies in different regions of the world will also be invited to attend.

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