PM leaves for Pretoria

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today embarked on a three-day visit to Pretoria to attend the trilateral India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit that is expected to be dominated by pressing global issues like the difficult economic scenario and UN-related matters.

During his visit, Singh will also have bilateral meetings with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma.

In his pre-departure statement, Singh said he looked forward to an "exchange of views with our IBSA partners on the current global economic and financial situation especially in the context of the forthcoming G-20 Summit in France".

The three leaders will discuss possible steps that need to be taken to address the economic situation, which has become difficult in view of the crisis in Europe, officials said.

The fifth IBSA summit of the three leading emerging nations of three different continents will take place tomorrow.

Singh said the Summit is also expected to focus on coordination among IBSA countries in United Nations Security Council, sustainable development, the forthcoming meetings of the Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC and the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol being hosted by South Africa later this year, the Rio+20 Conference being hosted by Brazil in 2012 and other matters related to deepening of cooperation under IBSA.

"It is a happy coincidence that during 2011, India, Brazil and South Africa are members of the United Nations Security Council. We have shown significant cohesiveness and coordination in our approach to issues under discussion in the Security Council," the Prime Minister said. Singh added an IBSA Joint Declaration is expected to be adopted at the Summit.

He noted that the IBSA Dialogue Forum has matured considerably over the years and there is greater cooperation across a wider canvas. "Above all, the idea of three large developing democracies – Brazil, India and South Africa – working together in a highly complex global environment has taken root, and has received universal welcome by our peoples," he said.

Issues related to international security like terrorism and maritime safety are also expected to be discussed.

The leaders of the three countries, which are aspirants for permanent membership of the Security Council, are also expected to discuss issues related to UN reforms. The three countries, all non-permanent members of the Security Council, have demonstrated coordinated actions in the recent past on Syria.

In the backdrop of representatives of India, Brazil and South Africa visiting Syria, the leaders of the three countries are expected to take their discussions forward on the issue.
Singh, Rousseff and Zuma are also expected to discuss issues related to the IBSA Trust Fund, which is used for joint developmental projects in under-developed places like Palestine and Haiti. Each country contributes $1 million each year to the Fund.

The Summit will be preceded by the trilateral meeting of Foreign Ministers and forums on various topics like commerce and women and child development.

India has been maintaining that the relevance of the IBSA will remain as it brings together three large democracies of three continents and is not undermined by the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS).

Singh said he also looked forward to holding bilateral meetings with Zuma and Rousseff to exchange views on global, regional and bilateral issues of mutual interest.