PM to hold talks with BRICS leaders in Durban

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have bilaterals with the leaders of BRICS (Brazil-Russia- India-China-South Africa) countries on the sidelines of their Summit in Durban next week where the impetus would be on strengthening partnership and boosting cooperation.

It will be first time, Singh will meet China's new President Xi Jinping, who took over from Hu Jintao last week.

The Prime Minister will lead a high-profile delegation, including Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, to the 5th Summit of BRICS, an economic bloc representing five of the world's leading emerging economies.

The Durban Summit will be the first for Russian President Vladmir Putin. He had attended the BRICS Leaders' meeting chaired by Prime Minister Singh in Mexico on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in June 2012.

During his four-day visit starting March 25, Singh will also meet with Heads of State of various African countries who are also expected to gather in Durban.

India will handover the Chairmanship of BRICS to South Africa which would be hosting the Summit, whose theme is 'BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation'.

While a number of issues, especially on the economic front, are set to be discussed at the Summit, government sources said there are four deliverables.

"The first is the eThekwini Declaration, setting up of BRICS Business Council, setting up of Consortium of BRICS think tanks and two agreements for infrastructure con- financing agreement for Africa and co-financing agreement for sustainable development," a source said.

While South Africa has been pushing for setting up a BRICS bank, sources said, "There are still some issues to be resolved. Finance Ministers would be meeting on March 26 and then the picture would be clear".

They said BRICS 'Sherpas' (diplomats) might also discuss Egypt's request to be admitted in the grouping but nothing has been fixed as yet.

"There is no talk of BRICS expansion yet," a source said.

The Indian delegation would consist of National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and top officials from the PMO, Ministry of External Affairs and others departments.

A delegation of Indian businessmen would also be taking part in the Summit.