Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Michel Temer for bilateral interactions on Saturday, as he faces the task of carving out common ground on terrorism among them at the eighth BRICS summit that will kick off here.
Apart from terror, the summit is likely to see significant announcements on development initiatives in the Bay of Bengal region with an outreach to the 7-nation BIMSTEC, as well as a possible discussion on the worsening situation for civilians in Syria. However, the summit will face an overhang from ongoing tensions with Pakistan, the differences with China and worries over the slowing down of economies, especially Brazil and South Africa.
Ahead of his arrival in Goa, Mr. Modi said the BRICS forum was “anchored in the belief” that its “people are pivotal partners in our effort to craft responsive, collective and inclusive solutions.”
“I also look forward to useful conversations with my fellow leaders from China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia on addressing pressing international and regional challenges that stand in the way of our goals,” he added.
Chief among those challenges, say officials, will be terrorism, and India’s push to have a comprehensive convention on international terrorism (CCIT) adopted at the U.N. The fifth BRICS summit at Brasilia in 2010 had included an appeal for an “early conclusion of negotiations in the UN General Assembly of the CCIT and its adoption by all Member States,” but India would like to see more decisive language on the convention as well the threat of cross-border terrorism and support by Pakistan to terror groups in the wake of the Uri attack.
“There would be very strong paragraphs on terrorism including how to deal with countries that provide sanctuaries and safe havens and how to cut down their financing,” said Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA at a press briefing this week. However, the strain in India’s ties with China over its opposition to India’s membership at the Nuclear Suppliers group, and blocking the designation of Jaish e Mohammad leader Masood Azhar as a U.N. sanctioned terrorist, could make the language more difficult to agree upon.
“A key item at this year’s summit will be anti-terrorism. All BRICS members do not want to solve bilateral disputes via politicised multilateral platforms.” Liu Zongy, a senior fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, wrote in the Chinese Global Times on Friday, adding that BRICS countries cannot take sides on the Kashmir issue or label a country as “supporter of terrorism”.
In his statement Mr. Modi said the decision to facilitate a BRICS outreach with the BIMSTEC countries was “significant”. Sri Lankan President Sirisena, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda, Myanmar State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will meet BRICS leaders on Sunday. Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has cancelled his visit because of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death and will be represented by his vice Foreign Minister.
The summit and retreat is being held at a sprawling resort in South Goa, where all the leaders will meet for dinner on Saturday night, followed by the BRICS conference and BIMSTEC outreach on Sunday.