brics: Jaishankar may meet Chinese counterpart on Brics sidelines on June 1

External affairs minister S Jaishankar could meet his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Capetown, South Africa on the sidelines of the Brics foreign ministers’ meet on June 1, in what would be their third meeting so far in 2023, as India remains steadfast in its demand for peace and tranquillity along LAC for normalisation of bilateral ties.

The Jaishankar-Qin meeting could also focus on President Xi Jinping’s possible visit to India for the SCO Summit on July 3-4. Jaishankar is also expected to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Brics engagement, which would be their third meeting this year. This could lay the foundation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s India trip for the SCO Summit.

The Chinese side has demanded the creation of a 15-20km buffer zone inside the Depsang Plains as a condition for disengagement. But India has rejected the demand and may agree to a 3-4 km buffer zone, according to reports. In an interview to Nikkei Asia before his visit to Japan, PM Narendra Modi had stated that “peace and tranquillity in the border areas are essential for normal bilateral ties with China”.

The Brics foreign ministers’ meeting that would help shape the agenda for Brics Summit in South Africa in August is expected to focus on Global South priorities including food and energy security, trade in national currencies and reforms of multilateral institutions. Brics NSAs would meet in July.

South African minister of international relations and cooperation Naledi Pandor will host the meeting of Brics ministers of foreign affairs and international relations. The mid-term meeting provides an opportunity for Brics foreign ministers to reflect on regional and global developments, according to a statement by the South African government.

Pandor, as the chair of the Brics ministerial meeting, will continue with the policy of inclusive engagement by inviting 15 foreign ministers from Africa and the Global South to a ‘Friends of Brics’ meeting to be held on June 2. The ministerial meetings will be preceded by the meeting of sherpas and sous-sherpas from May 29 to 30. According to the South African government, over 10 countries have applied to become Brics members. The summit is expected to discuss this critical issue. Jaishankar is also expected to meet separately with Pandor eyeing to push partnership in the Indian Ocean Region and expanding the economic partnership.

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