Iran has requested South Africa to help expedite its quest to join the BRICS group of nations that will hold their summit in Johannesburg later this month.
The August 22 – 24 meeting is headlined by BRICS members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, but other nations including Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria, Argentina plan to attend having expressed interest in joining the group.
Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said he hoped his country’s application could be “accelerated” with South Africa’s support, adding that Iran considered it a positive to develop relations with the BRICS member states.
“We hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran would obtain the opportunity of accelerated membership in BRICS under the strong support we hope to receive from the government of South Africa and other members,” Abdollahian said at a media briefing alongside South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor on Thursday.
“We believe that our membership in BRICS will strengthen multilateralism,” he said at the televised briefing in South Africa’s capital Pretoria.
“The countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Indonesia and some other countries who are interested in joining the coalition of BRICS are all friends of the Republic of Iran.”
Abdollahian said the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is expected to visit South Africa after receiving an invitation from President Cyril Ramaphosa and would elaborate further on Iran’s position on BRICS.
The prospects for collaboration between Iran and the bloc were addressed earlier this week at a meeting of representatives of the BRICS nations in Tehran, Abdollahian said.
Following the invitation of Iran to the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, Pandor said earlier this week that there is no intention of forming a “anti-West” alliance.
Iran has hostile diplomatic relations with the United States, which has imposed sanctions on the country.
Pandor said Iran was one of 67 countries Ramaphosa invited to the summit “with unanimous support from his fellow BRICS leaders.
It is widely expected that an expansion of the bloc is likely to be announced at the summit, which will also discuss economic issues such as the possibility of launching a joint currency to enhance trade within the bloc.
Pandor and other BRICS officials have previously said that the feasibility of introducing a common currency will be discussed at the meeting.
This step would be taken to protect the bloc from the fallout from higher interest rates in the US, as well as the use of the dollar as a sanctions instrument by Washington.