What You Need To Know:
Leaders from the BRICS group of emerging economies kicked off a three-day summit in South Africa on Tuesday, but there were notable absences. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were both missing from the scene.
The reasons behind their absence were distinct. Putin didn’t show up due to an outstanding International Criminal Court warrant connected to child abductions in Ukraine. He participated through a prerecorded 17-minute speech, marking the bloc’s first in-person meeting since the pandemic began.
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On the other hand, Xi, who had been in South Africa, held a bilateral morning meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa. However, he opted out of joining the business forum, where leaders from Brazil and India convened. Xi’s speech was conveyed by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.
The heart of the summit was scheduled for Wednesday in Johannesburg’s financial district of Sandton. This session aimed to gather Xi, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Ramaphosa for discussions, including the prospect of BRICS expansion.
The summit also attracted foreign attendees like Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
BRICS, originally comprising Brazil, Russia, India, and China in 2009, welcomed South Africa in 2010. As they contemplate the possibility of admitting new members, it’s notable that China and Russia are proponents of a larger BRICS.
While Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov represented his country at the event, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov assured that Putin was fully engaged, albeit remotely. Putin’s presence extended to a virtual participation in a Tuesday welcome dinner hosted by South Africa. The agenda marked his involvement in delivering a speech via video link on Wednesday.
Approximately 1,200 delegates from the five BRICS nations and numerous other developing countries converged on South Africa’s largest city. Over 40 heads of state were expected to join various summit meetings, according to Ramaphosa.
The opening day focused on economic cooperation and collaboration in health, education, and climate change.
Earlier in Pretoria on Tuesday, Ramaphosa sought “Chinese support for South Africa and Africa’s call for the reform of global governance institutions, notably the United Nations Security Council.”
Xi, who cautiously resumed international travel after China’s COVID-19 restrictions eased, joined Ramaphosa in witnessing a ceremonial parade at the Union Buildings, the government’s official seat.