A BRICS summit in Johannesburg this month will seek to enhance the five-nation grouping’s trade ties with Africa, host South Africa said on Monday.
The continent has emerged as a renewed diplomatic battleground, with the West, Russia and China vying for influence amid heightened competition for minerals and international divisions fostered by the war in Ukraine.
The heads of Brazil, China, India and South Africa plus Russia’s top diplomat will gather on August 22-24 under the theme “BRICS and Africa”, according to South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor.
“Our theme reflects our belief in the benefits a partnership with Africa can bring to BRICS,” Pandor told a press conference.
BRICS, an acronym for its member countries, sees itself as a counterweight to Western economic domination.
Talks will also focus on drumming up investments across the continent, Pandor said, adding representatives for other African countries will be in attendance.
China’s president Xi Jinping, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi have all confirmed they will be in Johannesburg, after speculation the latter might pull out.
Russia will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with Russian President Vladimir Putin participating online.
Putin decided against attending in person as he is the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant that South Africa is in theory bound to enforce.
Pandor laughed off the possibility of Emmanuel Macron showing up, after the French President made it known he was interested in participating.
“It’s quite amusing,” Pandor said, asked whether the French leader would attend. “No invitation has been issued in that regard”.