PM heads to China today

New Delhi: The volatile situation in Libya and some other countries in that region, which has caused "uncertainty" with regard to energy supplies and prices, is expected to be discussed at a five-nation Summit to be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in China.

Singh will travel to Sanya, a Chinese coastal resort, Tuesday for the Summit of Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) whose main agenda includes world situation, international economic and financial situation, multi-polarity of global systems, developmental issues and cooperation among the member countries, particularly in the fields of economy and commerce.

The Summit is expected to discuss the volatile situation in Gulf and North African countries, including Libya, considering the "feeling of uncertainty" it has created with regard to energy supplies and prices, said Manbir Singh, Secretary (Economic Relations) in External Affairs Ministry.

Queried whether Libya would specifically be discussed, he said it was an "extremely important issue" as it affects all the BRICS nations and is expected to be deliberated upon.

Briefing reporters on the visit, he said at the Summit, India would like to discuss and understand the viewpoint of other member countries on the international financial and economic situation, inflation that is affecting several countries and volatility in currency.

Asked if the Summit would discuss the issue of Yuan which China wants to be an alternate currency for trading among BRICS countries, he was guarded in reaction.

"We are not going to raise it. It is for China to decide what to do with its currency and how it is valued," he said.

On whether BRICS would agree to Yuan as an alternate currency to Dollar for exchange as desired by China, he said the grouping was "yet to reach that stage" and before any such step, "pros and cons" needed to be considered to see whether it is "compatible with national laws".

To make a point, he added that currencies like Dollar and Yen are freely exchangeable.

At the same time, he said EXIM (Export-Import) banks of the BRIC countries have been talking on this matter.

At Sanya, South Africa will be joining the grouping of four fastest growing economies, which collectively account for 22 per cent of the global GDP, to make it a five-nation body.

On the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Singh will have bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and South African President Jacob Zuma.

During the five-day two-nation tour, Singh will also pay a two-day bilateral visit from April 15 to Kazakhstan where the two countries are expected to sign at least six pacts, including an inter-governmental agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.

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