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11 Aug, 2023 15:22

South Africa backs Iran’s BRICS membership

Tehran had requested Pretoria’s support for its "accelerated membership" into the group
South Africa backs Iran’s BRICS membership

South Africa supports adding Iran as a member of the BRICS grouping of countries, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported on Friday, quoting President Cyril Ramaphosa. Iran is one of more than 20 countries formally seeking to join the economic bloc.

Ramaphosa expressed support for Tehran’s membership bid during talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Thursday at the 15th meeting of the Joint Commission of the Islamic Republic of Iran and South Africa in Pretoria.

South Africa is interested in Iran being accepted as a member of BRICS as a friendly country,” Ramaphosa said, according to Mehr news, adding that Tehran has the “full support of Pretoria Africa in this regard.”

South Africa, which is the current BRICS chair, has also invited Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, as well as leaders from 66 other countries, to the five-nation bloc's summit later this month in Johannesburg.

Raisi has accepted the invitation and will attend the August 22-24 gathering, the Iranian minister told Ramaphosa on Thursday

At a briefing following the meeting with the South African leader, Amirabdollahian noted that Tehran had sought Pretoria's "strong" backing for its "accelerated membership" in the grouping, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Earlier this week, South African International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said further expanding BRICS membership would be one of the items on the agenda at the upcoming summit.

She confirmed that BRICS had received formal membership applications from 23 countries, including Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Indonesia, and Algeria.

The minister also defended Iran's invitation, despite its long-standing strained ties with the US and being under increased sanctions since 2019, emphasizing however that the goal is not to build an "anti-Western" alliance.

Pandor expressed her commitment to preventing the bloc from expanding in a way that would lead South Africa "down a path" that contributes to increased global conflict.