Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for the BRICS group of major emerging economies to transform itself into a greater geopolitical force.
Putin was speaking with the ITAR-TASS news agency ahead of a summit next week of the BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Putin said BRICS members were working on joint declarations on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear program, the situation in the Middle East, and other issues.
BRICS leaders are expected to use the March 26-27 meeting in Durban, South Africa, to endorse plans to create a joint foreign-exchange-reserves pool and an infrastructure bank.
Putin said Russia plans to announce the creation of a BRICS business council to promote trade and investment within the group and help launch multilateral business projects.
Based on reporting by Reuters and ITAR-TASS