September 30, 2023

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Next Stop: BRICS

TEHRAN – With Iran achieving the strategic goal of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a new target seems to have been placed high on Iran’s agenda: joining BRICS.

A senior Iranian diplomat said Tuesday that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian will pay a visit to South Africa soon. The diplomat, Mehdi Agha Jafari, who is Iran’s ambassador to South Africa, said the aim of the visit is for Amir Abdollahian to participate in the meeting of the Joint Economic Commission of Iran and South Africa. 

“The 15th meeting of the Iran-South Africa Joint Commission will be held on Thursday, August 10, during the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to Pretoria,” Agha Jafari in remarks to IRNA. 

He added, “The preliminary meeting of this commission started yesterday with the presence of senior experts from the ministries of the two countries at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Africa and continues today.”

According to the ambassador, the joint meeting aims to examine ways to develop cooperation between the two countries, especially in the economic, social, cultural, scientific and technological fields. The meeting also aims to finalize documents that will be signed during the upcoming visit of the Iranian president to South Africa, which is scheduled for fall, the ambassador noted. 

He said, “The President of South Africa has also invited the President of our country to participate in the BRICS Plus Summit which will be held in Johannesburg later this month.”

Although the visit is not directly related to BRICS, consultations with South African officials could also include Iran’s desire to join the bloc given the status of South Africa in the group of emerging economies. BRICS will hold its 15th heads of state and government summit in Johannesburg this month.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are the five BRICS members.

Iran is already a member of the Friends of BRICS group, which includes a number of countries that seek full membership in the group. The BRICS leaders are expected to discuss the issue of expanding the group in their upcoming summit. Perhaps the most important and controversial issue the leaders are expected to discuss is BRICS expansion by adding new members, including the admission criteria and guiding principles, according to a Reuters report. 

The Iranian foreign minister has recently participated in the Friends of BRICS meeting in South Africa. And Iran’s top security official, Ali Akbar Ahmadian, visited South Africa for a meeting with counterparts from the “Friends of BRICS” group of countries.

Ahmadian delivered a speech at the BRICS Friends meeting. He said Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela joining the BRICS would raise the group’s share of world energy resources to an excellent level. He also outlined the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position on cyber security, among other things.

“The experience of my country has shown how the Americans have tried to create different types of interventions and insecurities in other societies by using these [cyber] facilities,” Ahmadian said. 

In early June, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian attended the Friends of BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

On Tuesday, a conference was held at the Iranian foreign ministry to discuss prospects for cooperation between Iran and BRICS. The conference, dubbed Iran and BRICS: Prospects for Partnership and Cooperation, was attended by several Iranian and foreign officials, including Amir Abdollahian and representatives from Russia, China, South Africa, and other countries. 

Amir Abdollahian delivered a speech at the conference in which he highlighted Iran’s importance for the BRICS group. “The Islamic Republic of Iran due to its strategic and unique geo-political position, vast energy reserves, cheap and short transit networks, young and skilled workers, and scientific and technological infrastructure is a reliable and effective partner in bilateral and multilateral cooperation,” said the Iranian official. 
The Iranian foreign minister said under President Ebrahim, Iran attaches high importance to multilateralism. He put Iran’s membership in the SCO and its request for membership in BRICS in that context. 

“Iran’s multilateral approach is not just a reaction to unbridled unilateralism but a choice,” he added. 

Amir Abdollahian noted, “Iran will be an added value to BRICS members in terms of energy and sustainable energy security.”

He also said that the partnership between Iran and BRICS has practically begun in some areas including in the transport sector, where Iran is helping to connect India to Russia, and China to the rest of West Asia. 

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