Beijing: China, which is holding the rotating Presidency of BRICS bloc this year, said on Friday that it actively supports the expansion of the five-member group, a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Saudi Arabia and Argentina desired to join the grouping.
Riyadh and Buenos Aires have shown interest in BRICS activities, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as saying in an interview on Thursday.
“The interest in it (BRICS) is shown by our Saudi friends and Argentina, which stated the desire to become a full-fledged BRICS member, coming from the mouth of its (Argentina) Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero,” Lavrov said.
The next BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit is being prepared, Lavrov said. “The outreach format will be established within its framework, where around a dozen developing economies will participate,” he added.
Responding to Lavrov’s BRICS expansion comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here that as the BRICS Chair this year, China actively supports the start of the BRICS expansion process and broadens ‘BRICS Plus’ cooperation .
Wang said the recently-held meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs reached consensus on the BRICS expansion process and held the first-ever ‘BRICS Plus’ foreign ministers’ meeting, “which fully shows that the BRICS cooperation is open and inclusive .
China will work on BRICS-related parties to continue to have in-depth discussions on BRICS expansion and determine the standards and procedures for that on the basis of consensus.
We look forward to more like-minded partners joining the big family of BRICS, he said.
Foreign Ministers and top officials of Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, the UAE and Thailand took part in the foreign ministers meeting of the five-member group held virtually on May 19 under Beijing’s ‘BRICS Plus’ initiative.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took part in the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting convened by his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
China is making preparations to hold this year’s BRICS summit, dates for which are yet to be announced.
BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB) has already admitted Bangladesh, the UAE, Egypt and Uruguay as its members.
Russian foreign minister Lavrov in his interview to TASS had also indicated that many countries of the Arab world are showing interest in establishing partner relations with the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in which India and Pakistan are members besides China. The other members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
“These are processes of building up meaningful and positive, non-antagonistic alliances, not aimed against anyone,” Lavrov said.
The joint statement issued after the May 19 BRICS’ foreign ministers meeting said, The ministers recalled the BRICS efforts of extending its cooperation to other developing countries and emerging markets and supported further promoting the BRICS Outreach and BRICS Plus Cooperation, in line with the updated Terms of Reference adopted by the BRICS Sherpas in 2021through inclusive and equal-footed and flexible practices and initiatives.
The ministers supported promoting discussions among BRICS members on the BRICS expansion process. They stressed the need to clarify the guiding principles, the standards, criteria and procedures for this expansion process, according to the joint statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website.