India has positive intent, open mind on BRICS expansion, foreign secretary says

By Krishn Kaushik

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India has “positive intent and an open mind” regarding the expansion of the BRICS group of countries, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Monday.

“We don’t want to prejudge the outcome of discussions over BRICS expansion,” he said, ahead of a summit of the group, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, in Johannesburg from Aug. 22-24, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to attend.

He said BRICS is discussing boosting trade in national currencies. But while Brazil and Russia had mentioned the possibility of a common currency for the bloc, that is not part of the agenda.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the summit virtually, while his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, attends it in his stead.

The physical meeting will be the first for leaders of the BRICS nations since 2019, and expansion is a major part of its agenda.

Amid dissatisfaction with the prevailing world order, around 40 nations have expressed interest in joining the group, to make it a champion of the “Global South”.

Kwatra said that as the group relies on achieving a consensus, its members would need to agree on the criteria of how it should be expanded, and the guiding principles. Indeed, all members are not yet on board with the idea of expansion.

A “substantive part” of discussions has focussed on boosting trade amongst themselves in local currencies, Kwatra said.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik; Editing by Bernadette Baum)