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PoliticsSouth Africa

BRICS open to enlargement in call for 'multipolar' world

June 1, 2023

Russia and China have raised the possibility of BRICS accepting new members. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's attendance at an August summit remains unclear.

Foreign Ministers of the BRICS group of countries pose for photo as part of meeting. From left to right: China's Ma Zhaoxu, Brazil's Mauro Vieira, South Africa's Naledi Pandor, Russia's Sergei Lavrov and India's Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
The foreign ministers of the BRICS bloc of countries met in Cape Town and called for a 'multipolar' world orderImage: Foreign Ministry Press Service/ITAR-TASS/IMAGO

Foreign ministers from the five-country BRICS group called for a "rebalancing" of the world order in Thursday talks in South Africa.

"Our gathering must send out a strong message that the world is multipolar, that it is rebalancing and that old ways cannot address new situations," Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in opening remarks. "We are a symbol of change and must act accordingly."

Jaishankar said that the

concentration of economic power "leaves too many nations at the mercy of too few."

What BRICS foreign ministers discussed

The BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Talks among top envoys from the group this week centered on the potential use of alternative currencies to the US dollar for international trade and strengthening the group's New Development Bank.

Members of the bloc also discussed reforming global decision-making, with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor criticizing the lack of permanent African representation on the United Nations Security Council.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks with South African counterpart Naledi Pandor at BRICS press conference
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a number of countries were interested in joining the BRICS blocImage: Nic Bothma/REUTERS

Could BRICS expand to include new members?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "more than a dozen" countries had expressed interesting in joining the BRICS group.

Possible expansion could include the oil-producing nations of Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

Lavrov said that the issue of the enlargement was discussed with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, who was also in Cape Town.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhouxu said that Beijing expects the group to take on new members.

"We expect more countries to join our big family," Ma said.

Will Putin participate in the BRICS summit in August?

The talks come ahead of an August summit to be held in Johannesberg and to which Russian President Vladimir Putin is invited.

South Africa is a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has issued an arrest warrant against Putin. South Africa would thus be required to arrest the Russian president under the terms of the treaty that established the ICC.

South African Foreign Minister Pandor reiterated on Thursday that the Russian leader was invited to attend the summit. She said that the government was looking at its "legal options."

Putin has not confirmed his participation in the summit, with the Kremlin only saying that Russia would take part "at the proper level."

sdi/rt (AFP, Reuters)