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BRICS Summit Seeks Greater Political, Economic Clout

  • RFE/RL

The heads of state of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa pose prior to their summit in New Delhi on March 29.

The heads of state of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa pose prior to their summit in New Delhi on March 29.

The leaders of five major emerging economies have sought to increase their bloc's economic and political clout at a summit in the Indian capital New Delhi.

The so-called BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- account for nearly half of the world's population and more than one-fifth of global economic output.

In a declaration at the end of the March 29 summit, the BRICS leaders agreed to move toward creating a new development bank to improve their citizens' access to capital. They also supported boosting business and trade in their own currencies, rather than in the U.S. dollar or euro.

On the political front, the BRICS leaders warned against a military solution of the Iranian nuclear standoff, and called for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict.

The annual summit, hosted this year by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, brought together Presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Hu Jintao of China, and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

Singh praised the BRICS countries' contribution to global "growth, stability and hope."

"Our countries have stood up as poles of growth, stability and hope. Our global footprint is gaining in visibility and importance," Singh said.

"We have the capacity to contribute meaningfully to address global challenges. Our strengthening partnership is a factor of global peace and stability and reflects the common interest of our people."

Looking For Common Ground

The proposal to create a joint development bank -- the grouping's first institution -- topped the summit's agenda.

In their final declaration, the BRICS leaders said finance ministers of the five states would examine the "feasibility and viability" of the proposal and report back before the group's next summit.

BRICS nations have long pressed for a greater say in traditionally Western-dominated lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The five nations' leaders also agreed on March 29 to do deals with each other in their local currencies, and set a target of more than doubling trade from $230 billion in 2011 to $500 billion by 2015.

The major emerging economies group held its first summit in 2009. South Africa joined last year.

However, the BRICS nations, which have radically different economies and political systems, have struggled to find common ground in the past.

This summit was held amid tight security measures imposed by Indian authorities after a Tibetan activist set himself on fire in New Delhi on March 26 to protest the presence of the Chinese president.

The activist -- who died on March 28 -- was the latest of more than 30 Tibetan activists who immolated themselves since March to protest alleged repression by China in Tibet.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa