September 25, 2023

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Iran Seeks South Africa Support to Hasten BRICS Membership

(Bloomberg) — Iran asked South Africa’s government to support its “accelerated membership” of BRICS, as the five-nation bloc prepares to hold a summit later this month.

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Iran is one of a number of nations lobbying to join the bloc, which is expected to make a pronouncement on its expansion at the Aug. 22-24 summit that will be held in South Africa.

“We hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran will obtain the opportunity of accelerated membership in BRICS” with strong support from South Africa and other members, its Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said at a briefing in the capital, Pretoria, on Thursday.

Iran also encourages BRICS to add other nations wanting to join including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates as it would further consolidate the bloc, Amirabdollahian said.

Read More: BRICS Debates Expansion as Iran, Saudi Arabia Seek Entry

He is visiting on the back of a conference that was held in Tehran earlier this week where the prospects for cooperation between Iran and the bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was discussed.

Admitting Iran would likely draw the ire of the US that has imposed sanctions on the nation. Relations between the two have been tense since the effective collapse in 2018 of an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

The expansion of the group and the likely attendance of Iran at the summit isn’t aimed at building an anti-West bloc, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said earlier this week.

Read More: BRICS Expansion Isn’t Aimed at Countering West, Official Says

BRICS has failed to punch its weight as a group. That’s despite its members representing more than 42% of the world’s population and accounting for 23% of global gross domestic product and 18% of trade, giving credence to demands for more sway.

(Updates with more details throughout)

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