BRICS plan a separate meet of foreign ministers, NSA ahead of September Summit

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New Delhi: BRICS is exploring separate meetings of their foreign ministers and National Security Advisors (NSA) in the near future presenting an opportunity to India and China to be part of the same platform even as the slow pace of disengagement by PLA at the Himalayan borders has emerged as a point of discomfort for India.

While Russia, the current BRICS presidency, has proposed an in-person meeting of five foreign ministers in September to prepare for the Summit, the state of the pandemic will decide whether an in-person meet could be held or a virtual meet of the ministers be organised, ET has gathered.

Similarly, a face-to-face meeting of five NSAs will also depend on the state of pandemic. A virtual meet is likely in case the NSAs cannot meet in person.

Meetings of the five foreign ministers and NSA are important to shape the agenda of any BRICS Summit. This year’s meet of the foreign ministers and NSAs have acquired extra significance as two of five members of the BRICS – India and China – were involved in a stand-off along LAC and situation took a serious turn when 20 Indian armed forces personnel were killed by PLA in the Galwan Valley on June 15, adversely impacting bilateral ties.

While the disengagement process has been launched, India has been ticked off by the slow pace of the process due to China’s intransigence and PLA troops remain amassed at the border.

This has cast a shadow over multilateral meets, including BRICS, even though such platforms serve as Confidence Building Measures between India and China.

However, India, which will hold BRICS presidency in 2021, strongly backs current Russian presidency and its agenda for BRICS, including counter-terror measures, global economic revival and business initiatives, according to experts who specialises on BRICS.

Last week, addressing a webinar on ‘Russia-India Relations and Pandemic Test of Global Governance,’ Russian ambassador to India, Nikolay Kudashev, said, “We are very satisfied with the cooperation with India in the bilateral format as well as in the framework of BRICS, especially amid the Russian chairmanship in the grouping in 2020.”

Kudashev said that there are increasing expectations from India — as a non-permanent member at the UN Security Council (UNSC) next year — that it will further enhance its coordination within BRICS on the current international agenda.

In the run-up to the Summit (proposed in October in St Petersburg, originally scheduled in July but postponed due to pandemic) the five states have held number of meetings including a meeting of trade ministers last week. Several other meetings are in the pipeline ahead of the BRICS Summit including an environment ministers meet and almost all are expected to be held virtually, ET has learnt.

At the trade ministers meet held virtually, Commerce and Indian industry minister Piyush Goyal urged BRICS nations to enhance transparency in trade and build trust.

“It is trust and transparency which determines the sustainability of global supply chains and nations must demonstrate their compliance with global rules of trade to remain a part of global trade flow. Increasingly, nations which trust each other are coming together to build global supply chains with corresponding investments in manufacturing and services,” a commerce ministry statement had said, quoting the minister.

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Tagged bilateral, Brics, India-China, NSA, piyush goyal, PLA, Russia-India

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