Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) wrapped up their second-ever BRIC summit after sharpening their call for reforms of international institutions and discussing a push to impose more UN sanctions on Iran.
The gathering of the world’s top emerging economies on Thursday was truncated and brought forward one day to ensure the participation of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), who announced he had to race home to oversee the response to an earthquake.
“Brazil, Russia, India and China have a fundamental role in the construction of a fairer international order,” the summit’s host, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told a closing media conference.
Lula, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh all extended their sympathies to Hu and the Chinese people after an earthquake struck northwestern China on Wednesday, killing at least 791 people.
The Chinese president, who flew back to Beijing after the summit to handle what he called “a huge calamity,” thanked the leaders for their “solidarity and sympathy.”
Singh called the summit “very successful” and described the BRIC grouping as key to “contributing to world economic growth and prosperity.”
Medvedev said the meeting showed that the BRIC format is maturing “and allows us to not only coordinate our efforts, but to also make concrete decisions.”
A joint statement emphasized the group’s intent to see a “multipolar, equitable and democratic world order” that would result from a shake-up of the UN and global financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank to better reflect the aspirations of their emerging economies.
It also spoke of “the importance of maintaining relative stability of major reserve currencies and sustainability of fiscal policies in order to achieve a strong, long-term balanced economic growth.”
That vague clause appeared to refer to China’s reluctance to unlink its yuan from the US dollar — a policy that has boosted China’s exports but raised cries of unfair currency manipulation by countries including the United States.
Missing from the statement was any mention of Iran, even though a push by Western nations to obtain more UN sanctions against the Islamic republic figured strongly in several meetings on the sidelines of the BRIC meeting.
A trilateral summit between Brazil, India and South Africa held just before the BRIC summit agreed that more diplomacy was required in the international standoff with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
Lula, Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma “recognized the right of Iran to develop nuclear programs for peaceful purposes,” and underlined “the need for a peaceful and diplomatic solution of the issue.”
That language, however, was noticeably missing from the BRIC statement.
The leaders decided to not discuss Iran in their plenary session “but rather concentrate on issues relating to global governance,” said Brazil’s presidential adviser on international affairs, Marco Aurelio Garcia.
Russia and to a lesser extent China — both veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council — have reduced their resistance to the sanctions push in recent weeks.
However, Brazil, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, has resolutely defended Iran.
“Our impression ... is that the effectiveness of sanctions is debatable,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters, adding that Lula had set out that position in talks with the leaders of China and India.
“President Lula gave an explanation, to provide better transparency, on what we’ve done in relation with Iran. And we see great affinity with the points of view of each country,” Amorim said.
Lula also discussed the issue with Medvedev, Brazilian officials said.
The US, Britain, France and Germany have been urging the BRIC nations to support sanctions against Iran.
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