BRICS, South American nations forge closer ties

Anadolu Agency – additional reporting by Lucy Jordan

BRASÍLIA – The heads of state of the five BRICS nations of emerging economies met with the leaders of 11 South American countries on Wednesday in the Brazilian capital, Brasília.

The presidents of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which make up the bloc of developing economies, are holding their third official day of the 6th BRICS Summit.

Among the 11 South American leaders are Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Argentinian leader Cristina Kirchner and Juan Manuel Santos, recently re-elected as president of Colombia.

The group came together for the summit’s second working session and included “family photograph” and joint toast with cocktails at the Itamaraty, the Brazilian Ministry of External Affairs.

Earlier Wednesday, President Rousseff met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at her official residence, the Alvorada Palace, for a breakfast meeting and private ceremony at which a number of joint agreements between the two nations.

The agreements included cooperation on environmental and diplomatic issues, and assistance with satellite monitoring of deforestation and territories home to Brazil’s threatened indigenous populations.

Rousseff has held a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss nuclear and defence cooperation, signing military, technological, economic and health agreements.

Putin ‘making friends’

The Russian leader, on a tour of Latin American, has already visited Cuba and Argentina, and may benefit from the residual anti-Americanism found in parts of Latin America, and from a more relaxed attitude towards conflicts in Eastern Europe that have isolated him in the West, said Alexander Baunov, expert on Russian-Latin American relations and editor of Slon.ru.

“Even if questions are raised over the recent annexing of Crimea from Ukraine, [Putin] will frame it such a way to show that Russian influence was merely ejecting an unwanted American advancement into Ukraine,” Baunov told AA, referring to the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that helped bring pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko to power.

“Putin is keen to have friends who are less concerned by changing borders – something that is sacrosanct and unalienable in Europe.”

Baunov added that while overtures to Cuba are a “slap in the face to the US,” he does not believe Putin’s meetings with the Brazilian or Argentinian leaders would seriously worsen already-chilly US-Russia relations.

“Meetings with leaders such as Rousseff and Kirchner, which are deemed far more respectable by the US, are unlikely to make relations worse than they currently are,” Baunov said.

– New $100 billion BRICS bank

During the first two days of the summit, held in the northeast Brazilian city of Fortaleza, leaders agreed the so-called “Fortaleza Declaration” which oversaw the forging of a new $100 billion BRICS development bank and currency reserve fund.

The development is considered an attempt to shift the balance of economic power away from traditional Western economies and associated institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced on Tuesday that the bank would be headquartered in Shanghai and that an Indian CEO would first take the helm – a position that will be in rotation. A regional office will also be set up in South Africa.

Rousseff added that the creation would benefit emerging and developing countries, as well as “contribute resources to guarantee investments in infrastructure.”

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