PM Modi to attend BRICS Summit in South Africa: Foreign Minister Pandor


Johannesburg: The South African government on Monday confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the next BRICS Summit to be held here from August 22 in person, dismissing some media reports as “rumours” that the Indian leader will not be present at the meeting.

Briefing the media on South Africa’s preparations for the 15th edition of the summit, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor told journalists that the leaders of Brazil, China, India and hosts South Africa will participate in a range of discussions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate virtually, due to an ICC warrant which would have obliged South Africa to arrest him if he came in person.

“I did speak to various colleagues in government and outside, and everybody was astounded by this rumour. I think that someone who is trying to spoil our Summit is creating all sorts of stories that suggest that it won’t be successful,” Pandor said as she confirmed Modi’s attendance.

“The Prime Minister of India has never said that he is not attending the Summit. I am in constant contact with foreign minister Jaishankar. He has never said that. Our sherpas are in touch and they have never said it. So, we have all been trying to look for this needle in a haystack that began this rumour,” Pandor said.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi last week that Prime Minister Modi will be visiting Johannesburg to attend the BRICS Summit.

“President (Cyril) Ramaphosa invited PM for the BRICS Summit being hosted by South Africa on August 22-24, 2023 and briefed him on the preparations for the same. PM accepted the invitation and conveyed that he looked forward to his visit to Johannesburg to participate in the Summit,” the MEA said in a press release on August 3 after the two leaders held a telephone conversation.

Reacting to a question on whether Modi had agreed to come after a phone call by President Ramaphosa, Pandor said the phone call had been in the planning for some time already for Ramaphosa to brief Modi on a number of issues as they developed.

“The phone call was on our agenda. It had nothing to do with this rumour of non-attendance (by Modi),” she said.

Pandor highlighted a wide range of activities which will take place during the Summit.

“The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the BRICS Business Council will be hosting a content-rich BRICS Business programme from August 19 to 23; an event that seeks to foster economic growth, collaboration, attracting investment, and showcase opportunities within South Africa, Africa (as a continent) and all the BRICS countries,” the minister said.

All Business Councils from the BRICS countries are expected to bring large delegations to participate in sector-focused visits to various South African areas.

Pandor said BRICS leaders are expected to discuss the opportunities for realising the full potential of BRICS for inclusive global recovery and sustainable development.

“The leaders’ national statements at the plenary will be followed by reports of the president of the New Development Bank (NDB)as well as the South African chair of the BRICS Business Alliance and the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, which will be reporting in person to the BRICS leaders for the first time,” Pandor said.

The minister explained how the NDB was established in 2015 to play a catalytic role in providing financial support to emerging markets and developing countries for infrastructure and sustainable development.

“In late 2021, the Bank welcomed Bangladesh, Egypt, the UAE and Uruguay as new members, firmly positioning the Bank as a preferred global financing mechanism for emerging markets and developing countries,” Pandor said.

The minister said it was important to remember that BRICS countries are at the centre of global recovery.

“One of the stated objectives of BRICS membership is to leverage the political and economic relations as BRICS members to address the triple challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment through increased intra-BRICS trade, investment, tourism, capacity-building, skills and technology transfer,” Pandor said.

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