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Shiva Joshi, Pune

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to fly to Johannesburg for the 15th Brics summit on August 22, which will begin with a gathering of the group’s business forum and end with a retreat for the leaders.

In addition to taking part in discussions about economic cooperation, food security, and Brics expansion, PM Modi is anticipated to emphasize at the summit the importance of member states respecting one another’s security interests and speaking out against terrorism as a group.

The first in-person Brics summit since 2019 will feature more than 50 heads of state joining South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva, and Modi. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, will join the leaders remotely.

Tuesday’s business forum will feature remarks from PM Modi, who is anticipated to highlight the importance of the Brics at a time when the world is still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as some of his administration’s accomplishments, such as the digital transformation and ease of doing business.

For the first time since their brief discussion on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali last year, Modi and Xi will be face to face during the leaders’ retreat on the first day of the summit.

The Ukraine crisis is set to be discussed during the plenary session on Wednesday, with the host country, South Africa, which has maintained a “neutral” stance in the war, leading an African drive to end the problem.

PM Modi is likely to underline the need for a quick stop to the fighting so that negotiations and diplomacy can take over.

With 22 countries queuing up for Brics membership, the talks will also focus on the expansion of the bloc. Fearing excessive Chinese influence, and wary of alienating the West, both India and Brazil have treated the issue cautiously.

India, which has significant relations to several of the nations applying, has vehemently denied that it is opposing the proposed expansion and has stated that all it wants is for the membership criteria to be established first.