By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, June 2 (Reuters) – Senior officials from more than a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, were in talks on forging closer links with the BRICS bloc of major emerging economies on Friday as it met to deepen ties and position itself as a counterweight to the West.
BRICS, which now consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is considering expanding its membership, and a growing number of countries have expressed interest in joining.
Once viewed as a loose association of disparate emerging economies, BRICS has in recent years taken more concrete shape, driven initially by China and, since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022, with added impetus from Russia.
In remarks opening Friday’s discussions, host South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor spoke of the bloc as a champion of the developing world, which she said was abandoned by wealthy states and global institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The world has faltered in cooperation. Developed countries have never met their commitments to the developing world and are trying to shift all responsibility to the global South,” Pandor said.
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