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PREVIEW: Russia to open first meeting of BRICS Sherpas under its chairmanship in the bloc

For the first time, representatives of five new members of the association - Egypt, Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia - will participate in such a meeting

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. Moscow will host the first meeting of the Sherpas and sous-Sherpas of the BRICS countries from January 30 to February 1 as part of Russia’s chairmanship in the association. For the first time, representatives of five new members of the association - Egypt, Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia - will participate in such a meeting.

Traditionally, Sherpas meet to verify positions on main international issues, discuss pressing issues of cooperation and prepare for upcoming events. At the coming meeting the Russian side is to outline to the guests the program of its chairmanship. As Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated, during its year-long chairmanship Moscow will do everything possible to ensure that the five new BRICS members can "harmoniously integrate into the operating mode of the organization."

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would speak to the meeting participants at the session "BRICS Strategic Partnership as a Support for Multilateralism". The minister drew attention to the fact that Moscow sees the promotion of the interests of the world majority on the list of the group’s main tasks, and the association’s authority in this role is growing rapidly. "If we consider that more than 20 - even closer to 30 - countries are interested in rapprochement with BRICS, then, of course, we see a very great future for this association with a global composition of participants," he noted.

Taking into account the growing international attention to BRICS, further expansion also remains in focus of the Russian chairmanship. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who is Russia's Sherpa in the group, said that, when discussing this topic with partners, Moscow would give priority attention to the candidacies of Belarus and Kazakhstan.

While preparing to take over from Pretoria as BRICS chair, Moscow has repeatedly stated that it will continue the course toward expanding the group‘s global influence. Among Moscow’s priorities will be the creation of a common trade settlement mechanism within the BRICS economies.

It is expected that Russia will continue the discussions on reaching a settlement in the Middle East that began at the extraordinary summit in November, as well as on other world issues that are traditionally discussed among the BRICS countries. Other potential topics include individual countries’ experience using artificial intelligence. Attention will also be paid to finalizing the new category of BRICS partner states.

Moscow has already announced about 200 separate BRICS-related events, about 10 of which will be held at the ministerial level. Among the Russian cities that will host important BRICS events are Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan. In the summer, Nizhny Novgorod will host a meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers, while Kazan will host the annual BRICS summit in October.

BRICS was formed in 2006 and initially included Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa joined the intergovernmental organization in 2011.