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BRICS foreign ministers to meet in South Africa

The meeting will be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who arrived in Cape Town after his African tour, having visited Kenya, Burundi and Mozambique

CAPE TOWN, June 1. /TASS/. A meeting of foreign ministers from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) opens under the presidency of South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor in Cape Town on Thursday.

A meeting of BRICS Friends will be held on June 2. It will be attended by the top diplomats from the BRICS nations and from 15 states of the Global South, including those seeking the association’s membership.

Lavrov’s participation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the meeting. He arrived in Cape Town after his African tour having visited Kenya, Burundi, and Mozambique.

According to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the ministers will discuss current issues on the international agenda, cooperation within the leading multilateral format, will exchange views on the prospects for the development of strategic partnership within BRICS. "Special attention will be focused on the upcoming summit of the five nations’ leaders on August 23-24," she added.

Apart from that, Lavrov will hold a series of bilateral meetings.

Preparations for BRICS summit

Preparations for the BRICS summit will be among the central topics of the meeting. A matter of major importance is South Africa’s relations with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in light of the latter’s arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was invited to the summit along with other BRICS leaders. Commenting of the ICC warrant, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that Moscow does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction.

According to South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Obed Bapela, his country’s government plans to amend national laws to have the right to decide on its own about detaining any person under the ICC arrest warrant.

New architecture of international relations

A priority task for the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting is to promote the movement toward multipolarity and a new architecture of security, a spokesman for the South African foreign ministry told TASS. He recalled that South African President Cyril Ramaposa sees it as his task to create a wide front to reform the system of international organizations in order to expand the representation of points of view on the ways of the further global development alternative to the West.

South Africa insists that the decision-making mechanism, including in the United Nations, be more democratic so that international institutes could respond to global challenges and crises more effectively.

BRICS expansion

In the past two years, many world countries have been applying for being admitted to BRICS, South Africa’s Ambassador at Large for Asia and BRICS Affairs and BRICS Sherpa Anil Sooklal told TASS. According to him, up to 30 states have submitted officials and unofficial applications.

He said that there is a principled decision of the BRICS leaders that the association would be expanded. The countries’ Sherpas have been working on a relevant document since January and it will be considered by the top diplomats in Cape Town.

African agenda

As the president, South Africa declared a goal to promoted closer relations between BRICS and African countries, that is why, according to the South African foreign ministry, among the 15 top diplomats invited to the BRICS Friends meeting eight are from Africa.

According to South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Elvin Botes, the ministerial meeting and the following summit in August are geared to promote closer cooperation between BRICS and all African countries.

Common currency still ahead

In recent months, BRICS nations have been holding consultations on a project for a possible introduction of a common currency group, but the final decision has not yet been made, the South African foreign ministry’s spokesman told TASS. He did not rule out that the top BRICS diplomats would address this matter in its "conceptual form."

According to Sooklal, the issues of a common currency unit is being discussed by BRICS experts. In his words, the basis for this is the expanded use of national currencies in mutual trade and investments. The BRICS countries have agreements on trade in national currencies and are determined to implement them, he stressed.

This subject was also touched upon by Naledi Pandor in the course of the preparations for the ministerial meeting. She noted that discussions are underway in the world, including in the BRICS nations, about ways to avoid the use of the US dollar. She stressed that it is necessary to strengthen the positions of the BRICS currencies in international trade.

Unprecedented pressure

In recent months, South Africa has been under the toughest pressure from the United States and a number of European Union countries, which insist it curb ties with Russia and China. Among other things, the United States is accusing South Africa of supplying weapons and munitions to Russia.

According to the May report of the South African Reserve Bank, which performs the functions of the Central Bank, there is a risk that Western countries will impose sanctions on the republic due to its close relations with Russia. This situation is already affecting the positions of South Africa’s national currency, with its exchange rate to the US dollar hitting the all-time low.

Meanwhile, Elvin Botes told TASS that despite the pressure, his country is committed to friendship and partnership with Russia.

Naledi Pandor also stressed that Russia has been South Africa’s friend and partner for decades and the two countries cannot become enemies at the request of other countries.

The South African side expects this meeting to demonstrate that BRICS will not yield to external pressure.