April 11, 2010

In a first, IBSA, BRIC nations to dwell on world affairs

Indrani Bagchi, TNN, Apr 10, 2010, 01.37am IST

NEW DELHI: The Iran nuclear question will dominate discussions at the nuclear summit in Washington next week. Significantly, and for the first time, it will also be a major standalone issue to be debated by leaders of the top emerging economies later in the week (April 15-16) when the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) and BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) groupings meet in Brasilia.

In a clear sign that global power is shifting positions, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and China will take time off from collective navel-gazing to debating global issues of peace and security. Apart from signalling a greater confidence in each other, the group is also showing a willingness to increase its international footprint, which may or may not always coincide with the US-EU stand on things.

Parvati Sen-Vyas, secretary in MEA, told journalists on Friday that Shivshankar Menon, national security advisor, will discuss international security issues with his counterparts as well as hold his own set of bilateral meetings in Brazil, broadening the mandate of these meetings.

While Russia and China have been closely involved with the Iran question in the UN Security Council as P-5 members, India has had a different history, because it has now voted three times against Iran at the IAEA, leading to a distinct cooling between Tehran and New Delhi.

For China, too, the debates in Brasilia could provide useful cover for its ultimate decision on Iran in the UNSC, where it has already indicated that it will restart "discussions" with the US, which desperately wants a new sanctions regime for Tehran. It is unlikely that BRIC-IBSA will advocate further sanctions on Iran though.

On the Middle East, while Russia is a member of the Quartet, the views of India and other countries will show whether there is another approach to solving the world's longest bilateral crisis. The Israel-Palestine stand-off will also be a significant part of the IBSA discussions. Although India was unconscionably late in responding to the Haiti earthquake, the BRIC-IBSA countries plan to increase support to rebuilding the poor Central American nation.

For India, these exercises are significant. Traditionally not comfortable with articulating its foreign policy beyond the glaringly obvious "we-want-peaceful-resolution" type language, India is increasingly being called upon to take sides, and come up with clearly nuanced foreign policy formulations that balance both its own interests and its international responsibilities. And from January, India will have a two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and could be called upon to vote on the Iran issue.

However, there will be certain no-go areas for these countries. The US and EU may be pushing hard for China to revalue its currency but this is not on the agenda at the BRIC-IBSA meetings, officials confirmed. Instead, the countries will be trying to work out better energy deals for themselves since Russia and Brazil are major energy producers while India and China are major consumers.


Adarsh Rao said...

Invitation: Online debate on India-Brazil- South Africa (IBSA) Policy Dialogue Forum
In partnership with the Ideas for Development blog, the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) is launching an online debate that will contribute with inputs for the forthcoming IBSA Academic Forum, which will be hosted by IPC-IG on 12-13 April in Brasilia, Brazil.
We invite you to participate in this discussion and reflect about the following issues:
- What is the role of the emerging countries in shaping world politics?
- How can India, Brazil and South Africa strengthen cooperation in key issues on the global agenda?
- In which ways an improved policy dialogue among developing countries can contribute to the implementation of effective policies towards the achievement of inclusive growth and human development?
Join us at: http://www.ideas4development.org

We also invite you to visit the IBSA Academic Forum website, where you can find interesting papers, resources and breaking news. Visit: http://www.ipc-undp.org/ibsa

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