DURBAN, March 27 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday will attend a BRICS summit the theme of which is "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration, and Industrialization".
The summit began late on Tuesday night with a concert of African national performing groups. The official part of the summit falls due on Wednesday. The leaders of the five countries will gather for two plenary sessions in a narrow format and one in a broader one. Representatives of African countries will join them later in the day for sessions of the BRICS-Africa leaders' Dialogue Forum. The programme also provides for a working luncheon of the Heads of State of BRICS countries and members of the BRICS business community.
As a result of the BRICS summit, the leaders are to adopt an eThekwini Declaration, named so after Durban's district where the summit proceedings take place, and an eThekwini Action Plan. Putin's aide Yuri Ushakov told Itar-Tass that the Declaration would contain an assessment of the current global political and economic situation and would reflect the common approaches of the five nations to the pressing issues of multilateral cooperation. The Action Plan will spell out some details of the BRICS activities in the coming twelve months and will list the new promising areas of interaction, he added .
Along with economic issues, the leaders of BRICS countries intend to discuss topical international problems, including the Syrian crisis, the situation around Iran, and the Middle East peace process.
BRICS countries "invariably reaffirm their commitment to the basic principles of international law, contribute to enhancing the central role of the United Nations Organization, and come out in favour of settling conflicts by politico-diplomatic means, and do not accept power-politicking and infringement of the sovereignty of other states," Ushakov emphasized.
Putin pointed out in an Itar-Tass interview on the eve of the summit that Russia suggests that the partners "gradually transform BRICS from a dialogue forum coordinating positions on a limited range of matters into a full-format strategic interaction machinery" so as to "jointly seek ways to settle the key problems of world politics".
BRICS traditionally acts from similar positions on a settlement of international conflicts by politico-diplomatic means, the Russian president pointed out. "We have prepared a joint declaration for the Durban summit, setting out in detail our principled approaches to such matters of current importance concerning the international agenda as the Syrian crisis, the Afghan, Iran, and Middle East problems," he said.
In the process, Russia's stand is that Moscow "does not view BRICS as a geopolitical competitor to Western states or their organizations". On the contrary, it is open for discussions with all those interested in that -- within the scope of the common multipolar model of the world," Putin pointed out.
The presidential aide also said the Head of State would have a number of bilateral contacts on the sidelines of the summit, specifically with President Mohamed Mursi of Egypt. "I think the situation in Syria will be among key subjects of discussion at the meeting, just as during conversations with other leaders," Ushakov said.
The President of Russia is being accompanied in the tour by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov, Minister of Natural Resources Sergei Donskoi, Energy Minister Alexander Novak, and Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov. The delegation also includes Russian business executives: Viktor Vekselberg, Ruben Vardanyan, Oleg Deripaska, Vladimir Potanin, Sergei Chemezov, Vladimir Dmitriyev, and Vladimir Yakunin.
The presidential aide pointed out that Kremlin considers it important to work with the partners for BRICS.
"Russia regards BRICS as one of foreign-policy priorities," Ushakov said, recalling that the countries of the association account for over 27 percent of the world's GDP ($15.4 trillion), and that 40 percent og the world population -- about 2.9 billion people -- live on their territories.
The previous BRICS summits were held in Russia's Yekaterinburg in 2009, in Brasilia in 2010, in the city of Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan in 2011, and in India's capital New Delhi in 2012.
Vladimir Putin arrived in South Africa for a visit onTuesday and held talks with President Jacob Zuma. As a result of the talks, the sides signed a joint declaration on the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and South Africa, and more than ten documents on cooperation in the fields of energy, security, science, and culture.