BRICS foreign ministers support talks between Russia & Ukraine

New Delhi: The sharp increases in costs of energy, food and commodities due to the “knock-on” effects of the Ukraine conflict must be mitigated to help the developing countries, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday at a virtual meeting with his counterparts from the BRICS nations.

With the foreign ministers of China, Russia and two other member countries listening, Jaishankar also said that the BRICS has repeatedly affirmed respect for sovereign equality, territorial integrity and international law, adding the grouping must live up to these commitments.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the foreign ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine and supported talks between Russia and Ukraine, adding they also expressed concern at the energy and food security implications of the conflict.

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In his remarks at the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the external affairs minister also said that the grouping must display “zero tolerance for terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism”, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

The meeting was participated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franco Fran a, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Grace Naledi. The meeting was hosted by China.

“The ministers expressed strong condemnation of terrorism whenever, wherever, and by whom-so-ever and also expressed commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the cross-border movement of terrorists,” the MEA said.

The BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 41 per cent of the global population, 24 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of the global trade.

“The knock-on effects of the Ukraine conflict have led to sharp increases in the costs of energy, food and commodities. This must be mitigated for the sake of the developing world,” Jaishankar said.

“BRICS has repeatedly affirmed respect for sovereign equality, territorial integrity and international law. We must live up to these commitments,” he added.

His comments assumed significance as they came in the backdrop of the lingering border row between India and China in eastern Ladakh and Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

“The BRICS should unanimously and specifically support UN Security Council reform. Together, we should press for credible commitment of resources by developed nations for climate action and climate justice,” Jaishankar said.

“The BRICS must display zero tolerance for terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism. A globalised and digitised world will give due regard to trust and transparency,” he added.

The external affairs minister also said that sustainable development goals must be approached in a comprehensive manner.

The MEA said the BRICS foreign ministers supported the call for advancing the process of reform and greater representation of developing countries in the international organisations and multilateral fora, including the UN and its Security Council, so that they could play an important role in global governance.

“They reiterated that the BRICS countries shall continue work together to contain the spread and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the leading role of the WHO in combating the pandemic; the importance of the ongoing discussions in the WTO including on TRIPS waiver proposal; and called for the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” it said.

India and South Africa have been pressing for the TRIPS (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver to ensure scaling up of the COVID-19 vaccine production for equitable and global access.

“The ministers exchanged views on furthering intra-BRICS cooperation on the three pillars of political and security, economic and finance, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. In this regard, they recalled the adoption in 2021 of the revised terms of reference for guiding BRICS engagement,” the MEA said.

Separately, asked at a media briefing whether China will host an in-person BRICS summit and whether there was a possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelling to that country to attend it, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said he does not have any information on it.

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