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BRICS Holds Summit In Russia

BRICS leaders pose for a photo during the summit in Ufa on July 9, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with the leaders of emerging powers in the Russian city of Ufa for a summit widely seen as an attempt by Moscow to show it is not isolated despite its standoff with the West over the conflict in Ukraine.

The leaders of the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- adopted a declaration expressing "deep concern" about the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine pitting government forces against pro-Russian separatists.

The document called on both sides to abide by a cease-fire signed in February by Ukraine, Russia, the rebels, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Ukraine and the West, however, have accused Moscow of continued support for the separatist fighters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, during a meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, on July 9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, during a meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, on July 9.

The Iranian nuclear issue was also on the agenda of the summit, which takes place as negotiators from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States are working in Vienna to strike a deal to curb Tehran's controversial nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

BRICS nations voiced confidence that the Vienna talks will result in a deal.

Their declaration said a nuclear agreement with Iran "is meant to restore full confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."

Close Iran ally Russia has long insisted that Tehran's nuclear program poses no threat despite Western concerns Iran is using it as a cover to build a nuclear-weapons capability.

Putin praised Iran as Russia's "traditional and reliable partner" on July 9 during talks with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who attended the BRICS summit.

Iran has previously expressed interest in joining BRICS.

Speaking at a briefing following the summit, Putin said BRICS nations stood united in countering terrorism, battling drug trafficking, piracy, and what he called the "revival of Nazi ideology" -- a veiled jab at the pro-Western leadership that came to power in Ukraine following protests that toppled Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych last year.

Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine's new leaders of Nazi sympathies.

The BRICS declaration urged the international community to avoid what it described as "political approaches" in fighting terrorism. It gave no further details.

Another item on the Ufa summit's agenda was the New Development Bank, which BRICS plans to establish in Shanghai, China.

Putin said the bank will be launched next year with a capital of $100 billion and will carry out "large-scale development projects" in BRICS countries.

BRICS has said the bank's first president will be from India and its first chairman of the board of directors will be from Brazil. A Russian representative is slated to be the first chairman of its board of governors.

Putin said Russia has called for closer economic coordination between BRICS members.

"The partners have supported our proposal on stepping up mutual trade and exchanges of capital investment," he said.

Moscow has deepened its ties with BRICS since being hit by Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea and its support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking in Ufa on July 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said none of Russia's BRICS partners had voiced opposition to Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014.

An overwhelming vote by the UN General Assembly produced a resolution last year that affirmed Crimea's status as part of Ukraine.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, TASS, Interfax