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Putin and Iranian President discuss BRICS membership, bilateral ties over call

August 18, 2023 12:12 PM IST

BRICS | Putin | South Africa | Iran President | Raisi | Vladimir Putin | BRICS membership

In a diplomatic exchange, Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a phone call on Thursday with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi focusing on Iran’s possible future membership of the BRICS grouping and the expansion of bilateral relations.

The Kremlin’s press service reported the same through a statement. During the call, the leaders explored Iran’s aspirations to join the BRICS group, a bloc that comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The expansion of BRICS is set to be a prominent topic at an upcoming summit scheduled to take place in South Africa. This summit, which is due to occur next month, will see leaders from the member nations discuss and evaluate the prospect of welcoming new countries into their fold.

The conversation between Putin and Raisi wasn’t confined to BRICS membership. They also underscored their shared commitment to advancing various facets of their bilateral relationship. The areas of focus included trade, transport, logistics, environmental protection, and energy collaboration, with both leaders expressing their intention to further develop and strengthen these ties.

The joint statement issued by the Kremlin’s press service highlighted the leaders’ discussions on international and regional cooperation. The statement noted Iran’s keen interest in becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in addition to its desire to join the BRICS group. The current status of Russian-Iranian relations was deemed satisfactory by both parties.

“The parties discussed issues related to cooperation in international and regional affairs, particularly taking into account Iran’s full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its interest in joining the BRICS group,” the statement reads.

It’s noteworthy to mention that the BRICS expansion process has drawn attention from numerous countries that are seeking inclusion. The suggestion to initiate the expansion process emerged from China in May 2022, and since then, several countries have expressed interest in joining the group. The first applications were received from Argentina and Iran. 

The path to expansion hasn’t been without complications though. A meeting of BRICS foreign ministers in Cape Town last June saw the consideration of an expansion concept, which subsequently required more revision. The dialogue also extended to a Friends of BRICS gathering, attended by foreign ministers from the member nations as well as representatives from 12 other countries in the Global South, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

All eyes are set on the upcoming BRICS summit chaired by South Africa, scheduled for August 22-24 in Johannesburg. One of the central points of discussion will be the expansion of the organization. Reportedly, a significant number of formal applications have been received from 23 countries aspiring to be part of the BRICS community, highlighting the group’s growing global prominence.

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