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PM to discuss terrorism, economic cooperation at IBSA Summit

October 17, 2011 22:24 IST

The prime minister is expected to take up matters related to the deepening of cooperation among IBSA countries, says's Shishir Bhate, who is travelling with the prime minister to South Africa.  

Proving that there's strength in numbers, India is likely to enrol the cooperation of South Africa and Brazil to adopt a common stance on Pakistan and Afghanistan -- on the lines of the one taken over Syria at the United Nations early this month -- when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets with the leaders of the other two IBSA member in Pretoria on Tuesday for the 5th IBSA Summit, officials accompanying the prime minister said.

"Important regional and international issues are discussed at ISBA. Terrorism is a major concern. Therefore, these talks (concerning the Af-Pak situation) are expected to cover a whole range of issues," Vishnu Prakash, India's foreign office spokesperson, said.

The prime minister arrived in Pretoria on Monday for the summit and is expected to take up this issue, among other important matters such as terrorism, economic cooperation, maritime safety, 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 and other matters related to the deepening of cooperation among IBSA countries.

The IBSA Dialogue Forum has matured considerably over the years leading to greater cooperation over a wide range of issues. IBSA has demonstrated cohesion and strategic coordination on various issues under discussion at the UN, particularly in the context of the ongoing developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

The visit of an IBSA delegation to Damascus in August this year and its interaction with the Syrian leadership seeking an end to the violence there and urging a peaceful solution to the crisis was deeply appreciated.

The three IBSA members are together members of the UN Security Council for the first time ever since the trilateral forum was formed in 2003. In a coordinated, joint move the three democracies had abstained on the UNSC Resolution against the Syrian regime, proposed by some members including the United States, on October 4, 2011.

The abstention had raised the hackles of many, especially Washington leading to the first-ever walkout by the United States at the UNSC. Among political and diplomatic spheres, the concerted effort has been touted as 'a victory of sorts' for the developing nations, especially for the IBSA.

Prakash further said that "in Syria, IBSA representatives had gone there and advocated a peaceful process through dialogue to resolve the crisis. That stance was then taken to the UN Security Council as well. So you have similarities in position".

Ahead of his departure, the prime minister himself had expressed his happiness over the joint effort of the three IBSA members at the UN and had indicated the adoption of similar positions in the future on international matters.

India, South Africa and Brazil have joint working groups to promote sectoral cooperation in as many as 16 areas including defence, trade and investment, energy, health, education, science and technology, tourism, agriculture, public administration and governance and climate change.

Since the establishment of IBSA, growth in trade among the three member countries has seen substantial growth. Intra-IBSA trade now tops $15 billion. The three countries also launched a Business Council in March 2005.

A joint declaration is likely to be issued at the summit. A memorandum of understanding among the diplomatic academies of IBSA countries has been finalised and is also expected to be signed at summit.

The prime minister is accompanied by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma. Sharma led the Indian delegation at the two-day IBSA Business Forum that concluded October 17.

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).

Shishir Bhate in Pretoria