BRICS Leaders Weigh Expansion Criteria with Bloc's Future in Balance: Report

BRICS Leaders Weigh Expansion Criteria with Bloc's Future in Balance: Report

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – BRICS leaders were weighing rules for admitting new members to the bloc of developing countries at a summit on Wednesday even as splits over its future direction risked undermining its ambition to give the "Global South" more clout in world affairs.

Bloc heavyweights China and Russia - whose President Vladimir Putin is attending the meeting virtually - want to reinforce BRICS amid heightened tensions resulting from the Ukraine war and Beijing's growing rivalry with Washington, Reuters reported. 

They are seeking to use the Aug. 22-24 summit in South Africa's commercial capital Johannesburg to forge the grouping, which also includes Brazil and India, into a counterweight to the West.

But longstanding divisions re-emerged on the first day of talks on Tuesday, notably voiced by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who said the grouping should not seek to rival the United States and Group of Seven wealthy economies.

Lula and counterparts Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for dinner and a mini-retreat on Tuesday evening.

The question of enlarging BRICS has topped the agenda at the summit and exposed the kinds of divergence of vision that have long plagued the grouping.

China and Russia are keen to expand BRICS to give the bloc more global clout. South Africa's Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that his country's stance was similar to China's

Brazil, meanwhile, is concerned that expanding BRICS will dilute its influence, though it wants to see neighbour Argentina join the bloc.

An Indian official familiar with the Tuesday evening discussions between the leaders said Modi indicated his country was open to expansion but "there have to be ground rules about how it should happen and who can join".

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