Jaishankar to chair BRICs foreign ministers’ meeting Tuesday

  • Enhancing cooperation among BRICs countries will be a key agenda of the meeting

Elizabeth Roche
First Published31 May 2021
Foreign minister S. Jaishankar.
Foreign minister S. Jaishankar.(MINT_PRINT)

Post covid economic recovery, the strengthening of the multilateral system to make it more effective and further enhancing cooperation among BRICs countries will be key items on the agenda of the group’s Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Tuesday.

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar will chair the meeting that brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The theme for BRICS meet under India’s chairmanship is “BRICS @ 15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ambassador Carlos Alberto Franco França, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yi, and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, are to participate in the meeting, a statement from the Indian foreign ministry on Monday said.

“The ministers are expected to exchange views on the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the need for strengthening and reforming the Multilateral System with a view to enhancing its capacity to effectively address the diverse challenges of our time and to adapt them to contemporary realities, on global and regional issues of concern, sustainable development, countering terrorism besides discussing ways to enhance intra-BRICS cooperation, especially people-to-people cooperation,” the statement said.

This is the second BRICS meet that will be held under the shadow of the covid-19 pandemic. It is also the second to be held amid continuing tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

One of the closely watched outcomes of the foreign ministers’ meeting will any expression of support from BRICS countries for the India-South Africa proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that seeks the waiver of patents for covid-19 vaccines and medicines. The proposal, mooted last year in October, by India and South Africa has been backed by the US and some 60 other countries. Earlier this month, China had said it would support the WTO proposal. Russia and China have developed vaccines to combat covid-19. India is seen as a major manufacturer of vaccines as is South Africa.

According to a statement by the Russian foreign ministry last week, the BRICS “will exchange views on topical issues of international agenda, including regional conflicts, strengthening of international institutions, countering new challenges and threats, including covid-19 as well as cooperation between the BRICS countries in the multilateral fora.”

The foreign ministerial meet is expected to pave the way for the BRICS summit to be held later this year which will be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is to include Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Last week, BRICS officials began talks to negotiate the key deliverables for the BRICS leaders’ summit that is to be held in October-November as well as the foreign ministers’ meeting.

The BRICS’ foreign ministers’ meet comes at a time when of renewed calls for investigating the origins of the SARSCoV-2. US president Joe Biden last week had asked the US intelligence agencies to look into the possibility of a of a laboratory accident in China where covid-19 first emerged in late 2019. India on Friday had extended support to the renewed global call for a comprehensive study into the origins of covid-19 pandemic.

Last week China in a statement said it “expects the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting to issue a strong voice on international solidarity against the epidemic, adherence to genuine multilateralism, proper response to global crises, and political settlement of hotspot issues, so as to safeguard the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries.”

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