South Africa will host a virtual summit of the BRICS group of countries on Tuesday, also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to discuss the Israel-Hamas war, Pretoria and Moscow said on Monday.
The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are a group of large emerging economies seeking to reshape the US-Western-led world order.
Tuesday’s “extraordinary joint meeting on the situation in the Gaza Strip in the Middle East” will be hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, hoping to forge a common response to the more than six-week conflict.
The meeting will include leaders from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, all of which will join the BRICS group in January 2024.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also attend, the South African presidency said in a statement.
It added that all five BRICS heads of state will take part in the virtual summit, after which a joint statement with specific reference to Gaza is expected.
Fighting is raging in Gaza after a shock Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 240 people hostage, according to Israeli officials.
In Gaza, around 13,300 people, including more than 5,500 children, were killed in the retaliatory air and ground offensive, officials in the Hamas-controlled territory said.
South Africa has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often linking it to its own fight against apartheid.
The ANC said last Thursday it would support a parliamentary motion to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel until Israel agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza, condemning the “genocidal actions of the Israeli regime.”
On Friday, South Africa joined four other nations in calling for an International Criminal Court investigation into the Israel-Hamas war.
China has historically been sympathetic to the Palestinians and supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Beijing has called for an immediate ceasefire since the war began last month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of stoking tensions in the Middle East and criticized Israel for its behavior in the conflict.
Putin skipped the last annual BRICS summit in Johannesburg because he has an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court – a provision that South Africa, as an ICC member, would have to implement if he were to enter the country.
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