Johannesburg, Aug 23 (EFE).- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced India’s full support to the inclusion of new countries to the BRICS bloc – which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – during the group’s ongoing 15th leaders’ and governments’ summit currently being held in Johannesburg,
“India fully supports the expansion of BRICS membership and welcomes moving forward on this based on consensus,” Modi said in his speech during the plenary session of the summit.
Even though India had not openly opposed the group’s expansion, it has for long stressed the need for the five member countries to internally discuss the processes for including new members, thereby delaying progress in this regard.
New Delhi’s insistence on establishing norms for new inclusions has been seen as a hidden way of opposing the addition of new members.
Nearly 40 countries have openly expressed their interest in becoming part of BRICS according to the South African government, which has received “formal expressions of interest” from leaders of 23 countries, including Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela, Algeria and Indonesia.
Modi referred to his support to the African Union for joining the G20, a bloc that is currently chaired by India, and which the Hindu nationalist leader has sought to use to turn into the “voice of the Global South.”
The ongoing summit is being attended by the presidents of Brazil (Luis Inacio Lula da Silva), China (Xi Jinping) and South Africa (Cyril Ramaphosa), while Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke via videoconferencing in order to avoid an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes during the Ukraine War.
The leaders of the bloc are expected to discuss the issue of expansion, one of the biggest topics on the agenda during the Johannesburg summit, in a plenary session on Wednesday.
Brazil, Russia, India and China had established the bloc BRIC in 2006, which was joined by South Africa in 2010, adding the letter S to the acronym.
The bloc represents more than 42 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of its territory, apart from accounting for 23 percent of the global GDP and 18 percent of global trade. EFE