Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to participate in a summit of the world's five largest emerging economies-- the so-called BRICS group-- to discuss ways to strengthen their economic ties and devise a unified stand on major world and regional issues.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, her Russian and South African counterparts Dmitry Medvedev and Jacob Zuma had arrived in the Indian capital earlier for the fourth BRICS summit, which is scheduled to take place later on Thursday. India will be represented at the summit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a distinguished economist in his own right.
During the summit, held under the theme of "BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity," the leaders are expected to discuss "political, economic and social issues of mutual and international interest."
"The summit will take forward the continuing efforts toward strengthening cooperation, consultation and coordination among the BRICS countries for the benefit of their people and of the international community," a statement posted on the website of the summit secretariat read.
The BRICS leaders are expected to issue a declaration on major world and regional issues at a joint press conference held after the summit, which comes at a time when the global economy is struggling to recover from the financial downturn and reeling under the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
The five-member BRICS bloc represents more than 40 percent of the world population and accounts for almost 20 percent of the world's gross domestic product and 15 percent of global trade. The first summit of the bloc held in Russia in June 2009 involved only leaders of Russia, China, India and Brazil, but the group was later expanded to include South Africa.
BRICS shot into international prominence recently, with the member-states taking a more active and constructive role in tackling the ongoing global financial problems as well as issues relating to global trade and climate change.
Proposals to set up a development bank on the lines of multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and to launch a benchmark equity index derivative linking stock exchanges are expected to take central stage at the summit. Among other issues, a recently imposed U.S. embargo on imports of Iranian oil is also expected to be discussed by the BRICS leaders during Thursday's summit.
Although China and India depend heavily on Iranian oil, Russia and Brazil are self-reliant in oil, while South Africa has other import sources. India and China have already voiced their opposition to the U.S. move aimed at isolating Iran over its disputed nuclear program, insisting that they intend to continue buying Iranian oil.
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said after a meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers on Wednesday that Beijing would not encourage "any negative implication of domestic rules of any particular country on the entire international community."
Separately, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said New Delhi respected the U.N. resolution and noted that none of the BRICS nations "are violating it by continuing trade with Iran." He added: "The U.N. resolution does not stop us from trading with Iran. For us, Iran is one of the important sources of energy for us."
Ahead of Thursday's BRICS summit, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington that the U.S. administration was eagerly waiting for the outcome of the meeting, and said: "I don't think we're going to prejudge them before they've had their meeting."
"We work very closely with Russia and China in the P-5 plus one process, so they're very up-to-date on our policy with regard to Iran. With regard to Brazil and India our message there is to continue to reduce dependence on Iranian crude," Nuland added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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