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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa “will not be drawn into a competition between global powers” ahead of this week’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg, which will consider the emerging market bloc for more than a decade largest expansion.

As a non-aligned nation, Africa’s most industrialized nation backed expansion and wanted to avoid a world “increasingly polarized into competing camps”, Ramaphosa said in a televised address as South Africa prepared to welcome Brazil, Russia , Indian and South African leaders. China and other developing countries.

According to people familiar with Beijing’s position, China is pushing the BRICs to become stronger political rivals to the G7 of advanced economies by expanding their membership, which could include Argentina, Iran, Indonesia and the other 20 countries that have formally applied national government.

But on the eve of the summit, which begins on Tuesday, India and Brazil were more skeptical about adding new members, representing tensions over whether BRIC should continue primarily as an economic forum for diverse developing countries.

India is the only BRICS economy currently performing strongly, as China faces a slowdown and the other three members have experienced anemic growth over the past decade.

South Africa, the first country to join the original BRIC group in 2010, has said it will not see further anti-Western expansion.

“The enlarged BRICs will represent a diverse group of countries with different political systems that share a common desire for a more balanced global order,” said Ramaphosa, who hosted Xi Jinping on a state visit ahead of the summit. Sa said the summit was only the Chinese leader’s second state visit. Travel abroad this year.

India’s Narendra Modi and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will also travel to the Johannesburg gathering, but Russia’s Vladimir Putin will stay behind. The Russian leader will not attend because the International Criminal Court has charged him with war crimes in the invasion of Ukraine and South Africa is obliged to arrest him.

South Africa has struggled to balance closer ties with Russia and China while reassuring the United States and maintaining threatened trade ties as Washington, D.C., has been equivocal in its condemnation of the war.

“While some of our critics prefer to publicly support their political and ideological choices, we will not engage in competition between global powers,” Ramaphosa said. “Multilateralism is being undermined by the actions of different power blocs. Instead, we trade with all these groups, invest in them, and use their technology.”

India’s foreign minister, Vinay Kwatra, said ahead of the summit that New Delhi had “a positive intention and an open mind on the issue of BRICS expansion”. But he also said there needed to be a “consensus” on the criteria for admitting new members.

“These are the subjects of ongoing discussions . . . I don’t want to prejudge the outcome of those discussions,” he added.

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