Johannesburg: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday expressed India's willingness to contribute towards enriching intra-BRICS cooperation further. Swaraj, who is on a five-day trip to South Africa, was attending the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Foreign Ministers' meeting.
She will also chair a meeting of Foreign Ministers of IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), another bloc working to deepen coordination among the three countries on major global issues. Swaraj earlier discussed with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa enhanced engagement between the two countries and greater cooperation in areas of skill development, agriculture and information technology.
All-dimensional and multi-layered cooperation that upholds development and multilateralism! EAM @SushmaSwaraj with other BRICS Ministers for the group photo before Ministerial Conference. pic.twitter.com/ma8yd4ftwK
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) June 4, 2018
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Following is the full text of the remarks by Swaraj at the opening session of BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting:
At the outset, let me warmly welcome Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to the BRICS Family. I also thank you, Mme Sisulu for chairing this meeting and for your gracious hospitality and warm welcome to me and my delegation. It is a rare privilege for me to be in this beautiful land of 'Madiba', especially when we all are celebrating his birth centenary.
Ours is one big global family. Co-existence and shared destiny are our common beliefs. I am confident that the visions of our great leaders such as Gandhi, Mandela, and Martin Luther will continue to guide us in our common endeavours. Excellencies, the BRICS had begun with the Foreign Ministers' customary meeting on UNGA margins in 2006.
Ever since we have had productive exchanges on the margins of UNGA in taking stock of global political affairs. I commend South Africa for convening the 2nd stand-alone meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers. I am confident, our deliberations here will contribute towards enriching intra-BRICS cooperation further. Excellencies, our meeting today takes place at a time when multilateralism, international trade, and rules-based world order face strong head-winds. Though the global growth has exhibited signs of recovery, the challenges to long-term growth continue to persist. Ensuring that the benefits of globalization are shared widely remains a challenge. BRICS countries have contributed to global stability and growth in a world drifting towards uncertainty. We have played an important role in shaping the global economic and political architecture.
Excellencies, BRICS cooperation has since expanded substantively in political, economic, and security spheres. Our leaders meet twice each year at Summit level. BRICS NSAs mechanism has consolidated our cooperation in counter-terrorism and security domain. BRICS Special Envoys are shortly expected to convene to deliberate the situation in the Middle East. Excellencies, during Goa BRICS Summit we had laid special emphasis in strengthening people dimension of BRICS. I am happy to note, the initiatives during India’s chairmanship on films, sports, youth, and traditional-medicine have taken firm roots. Excellencies, BRICS leaders gave us a robust mandate on counter-terrorism at the Xiamen BRICS summit. PM Modi had given a call for a BRICS counter-terrorism strategy for joint-action with a focus on money laundering, terrorist-finance, cyber-space and de-radicalisation as our priorities. Our leaders have also called for making UN counter-terrorism framework efficient and effective. We reiterate our commitment to implement our Leaders’ mandate on counter-terrorism under South Africa’s BRICS chairship.
BRICS Cooperation in strategic areas of security, counter-terrorism, UN reforms, peacekeeping, de-radicalisation, cyber security, energy security, global governance, and international and regional hot-spot issues are deliberated in detail during our NSA’s meetings. It is imperative now that the common ground reached in our NSAs meeting on setting up a BRICS Security Forum is implemented fully.
Excellencies, in less than two months from now our leaders will meet in Johannesburg for the 10th BRICS summit. Our deliberations today are, therefore, significant in preparing the groundwork for a successful Johannesburg BRICS summit. India welcomes South Africa’s Summit theme devoted to Development in Africa in an inclusive manner. We also welcome the focus on technology as the engine of future-growth and its significance for future generations and their employment prospects.
Mme chair, I thank South Africa for tabling the proposals on tourism, medicines, governance, and science-park network. Yoga and Ayurveda system of India’s traditional medicines will make BRICS tourism endeavours even more attractive. The New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangements are flagship BRICS initiatives. We must consolidate their functioning further and optimise their outcomes.
Excellencies, India attaches importance to the role of BRICS in consolidating intra-BRICS cooperation and in international affairs. I am more than confident, under South Africa’s able Chairship this initiative will be carried to new heights.
(With PTI inputs)