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Indian Prime Minister Modi unlikely to travel to South Africa for BRICS Summit: sources

Indian Prime Minister Modi unlikely to travel to South Africa for BRICS Summit: sources
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on 1 November 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Robert Perry)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to be a virtual participant at a summit of BRICS nations in South Africa later this month rather than attend in person, according to sources in New Delhi.

The foreign ministry declined to comment, while the prime minister’s office did not respond when asked by Reuters if Modi would be travelling to Johannesburg for the 22-24 August summit of leaders from a bloc that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already decided that he will be a virtual participant.

China and Russia are keen to discuss expansion of BRICS at the summit, while India has reservations about that idea.

India hosted a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in a virtual format last month after changing its plans to organise it in New Delhi, without giving an official reason.

Read more in Daily Maverick: South Africa Says BRICS Will Move Forward on Expansion at Summit

One Indian government official said there is growing discomfort in New Delhi about being part of groupings like BRICS and SCO, which China dominates, especially as India inches closer to the US and other Western powers.

Relations between New Delhi and Beijing nosedived after a clash on their disputed Himalayan border in 2020 in which 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed.

The SCO summit was held days after Modi returned from a state visit to Washington where President Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet for him.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Biden and Modi announce defence, chips deals at White House

Still, India has frustrated Western capitals over its unwillingness to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Instead, New Delhi has expanded trade with Moscow, buying record amounts of oil.

India holds the presidency of the G20 grouping and will host a summit of its leaders in early September. DM/Reuters

(Reporting by Rupam Jain and Krishn Kaushik; Editing by YP Rajesh & Simon Cameron-Moore

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