24 Jul 2018 17:51

BRICS leaders to discuss expansion at summit in S. Africa - Kremlin aide

MOSCOW. July 24 (Interfax) - The leaders of the BRICS member states will discuss the prospects of this association's expansion but will not make a decision on the matter at the upcoming summit in South Africa, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said.

"The BRICS leaders will meet on July 27 to consider the association's development and address strategic partnership priorities," Ushakov told journalists.

The leaders will review BRICS' first ten years and discuss future cooperation, he said.

"I cannot rule out that they might discuss how to plan BRICS' work in relation to other countries that want to work closely with this association and are even discussing the possibility of joining it," Ushakov said.

"That is, the BRICS leaders will exchange views on possible expansion processes, engagement of new participants, and so on. There are no plans to make decisions on the matter, but it appears to me the discussion itself will be interesting enough," he said.

The summit will also involve an expanded-format, Ushakov said.

"This meeting is traditionally held in an open format and will deal with the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution," he said.

The participants will discuss the promotion of cooperation between BRICS states in the digital field and the implementation of mutually beneficial joint projects that could help the association and its members occupy leading positions in a number of innovative sectors, Ushakov said.

The summit's program also envisions a separate meeting between the BRICS leaders and specially invited leaders of a number of states, he said.

"The leaders of African countries have been invited this time. This is well justified," he said.

Five years ago, when South Africa also hosted a BRICS summit, it invited a number of African leaders, and that discussion was interesting, he said.

This year, the leaders of Angola, the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were invited, he said.

"Apart from the Africans, the leaders of a number of countries presiding in major sectoral and regional associations have also been invited. These are Argentina, as the country presiding in G20, Turkey, as the country presiding in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Jamaica, which is leading the Caribbean Community this year," he said.