The leaders of five of the world's major emerging economies have used a summit to call for more global influence, urging changes to the world's financial system and to the UN Security Council and voicing concern about the NATO-led operations in Libya.
Previously, the so-called BRIC group brought together Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Today's summit on the southern Chinese island of Hainan was the first attended by South Africa -- turning BRIC into BRICS.
The largely ad-hoc grouping brings together five countries that are politically and economically diverse.
But the leaders -- Chinese President Hu Jintao, South Africa's Jacob Zuma, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- sought to put on a united front.
Medvedev said the BRICS group's "economic potential, political influence and...development prospects as an alliance are exceptional."
After the talks, Hu said the present times demand that the BRICS countries "strengthen dialogue and cooperation."
"The world is undergoing a profound and complicated transformation," he said, adding that reinforcing communication, refining and reforming economic global management, and improving representation for new rising market economies and development countries would be "conducive to the lasting peace and prosperity of the world."'Time To Reform UN Security Council'
In a joint statement, the group called for a broad-based international reserve-currency system "providing stability and certainty."
The leaders said the global financial crisis had exposed the inadequacies and deficiencies of the current monetary order, which has the dollar as the world's most-used currency.
South African President Jacob Zuma, whose country has just joined the economic bloc
BRICS leaders also called for the reform of the United Nations' Security Council to give developing nations a greater say in global issues.
Of the five BRICS countries, only China and Russia are permanent veto-holding members of the Council. The other three states are currently rotating Council members but are seeking greater representation.
South Africa was the only BRICS nation to approve a UN Security Council resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, which paved the way for international air strikes.
Medvedev said the leaders also agreed that the use of force in Libya should be avoided.
"Our joint position is that the solutions to this problem should be achieved by political and diplomatic means and not by the use of force," he said.
On other matters, the development banks of the five BRICS nations agreed in principle to establish mutual credit lines denominated in their local currencies instead of the U.S. currency. Rapidly Building BRICS Economies
With about 40 percent of world reserves -- led by China with $2 trillion -- BRICS nations are worried about the long-term direction of the dollar because of large American trade and budget deficits.
The BRICS group brings together some of the world's fastest-growing economies, which face the challenges of inflation, asset bubbles, and over-heated economies.
Brazil and India are also concerned about large trade deficits with China that critics say are supported by a deliberately undervalued yuan.
The BRICS leaders said the world economy is gradually recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis, but still faced uncertainties.
"There have been political riots, even a war going on in some western Asian and northern African countries in recent days, which has affected regional stability," said Hu.
"All that indicates that there is still a long way to go before we can achieve lasting peace and common prosperity in the world."More Representation In International Financial Institutions
The BRICS nations also called "for more attention" to the risks posed by excessive volatility in commodity prices, particularly those of food and energy.
And the leaders extended "full support" to Russia's 18-year bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), urging an "early accession" for Moscow.
BRICS leaders "fully support" Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation.
Moscow has complained that it has had to negotiate longer than any other country to join the Geneva-based trade body and that its accession process has been unnecessarily politicized.
Today's summit came as the Group of 20 major economic powers (G20), which BRICS member states also belong to, is seeking to reform the global financial architecture.
BRICS nations account for more than 40 percent of the world's population and 18 percent of global gross domestic product.
But the five countries have been underrepresented in international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
In a historic decision last year, the IMF board boosted the voting power of big emerging economies and made China -- the world's second-largest economy -- the third leading voice of the international lender. The IMF also decided to expand its governing board's membership to include China, India, Brazil, and Russia.compiled from agency reports