Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh will represent India at the two-day BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting being held here from June 18 where China was expected to unveil its agenda for this year’s Summit of the five-member bloc.
Singh will be attending the meeting as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has not yet started foreign travel after her kidney transplant operation, Indian officials said. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said today that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will chair the meeting that will take place here from June 18 to 19.
Lu was quoted by the state-run Xinhua News agency as saying that the meeting will also be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and Singh.
The meeting is a precursor to the chain of meetings of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) officials including the National Security Advisors’ (NSAs) meeting to be held later next month ahead of the Summit to be held in Chinese city of Xiamen in September this year.
Incidentally, this is first time Foreign Ministers meeting has been called ahead of the Summit by the host country. China took over the rotating presidency of the BRICS from India after last year’s Goa Summit of the group of emerging countries.
The Ministers’ meeting was regarded as significant from both the bilateral point of view for India as well as from this year’s summit, the structure of which would be decided by the host country.
Bilaterally, the foreign ministers’ meeting comes in the backdrop of India-China discord over a host of issues, including the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) culminating in India’s last month boycott of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) held by China to highlight the progress of the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
China also continues to maintain that there is no change in its stand on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as New Delhi’s efforts to get Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Masood Azhar banned by the UN.
Diplomatically, both the countries have been warming up after the BRF and the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting and the NSA’s meeting was expected to provide a platform for informal exchanges to move forward, officials said.
Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui has made some proposals during his address to United Services Institution in New Delhi last month emphasising that CPEC will not change China’s stand that Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan under the Simla Agreement. His proposals have not been taken up for discussion by both the countries.
Also, China was expected to outline its proposals for the BRICS summit, specially which are the countries it plans to invite. At the Goa Summit, India invited heads of the members of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).
Earlier this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke about BRICS Plus but gave no details. Officials expect China may unveil the details at the Foreign Ministers meeting.