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Beijing to host 14th BRICS summit on June 23

Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping

BEIJING: A virtual BRICS summit will be hosted by the Chinese President Xi Jinping next week. Top leaders from Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa will attend the meeting, making this the first such meeting since the start of the crisis in Ukraine.

Formed in 2009, the influential BRICS is a club of emerging economies and accounts for more than 40 percent of the global population and a quarter of world GDP.

China, India and South Africa, three of their members, abstained from voting on a UN resolution which condemned the Russian occupation of Ukraine.

Significant amounts of oil and gas is purchased from Russia by China and India. The two countries are also strongly tied with Russia in military aspects.

In a call on Wednesday, Xi assured Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart of China's support for Moscow's core interests in "sovereignty and security" -- leading Washington to warn Beijing it risked ending up "on the wrong side of history".

One of the few African countries to exert diplomatic influence outside the continent, South Africa, also refused to condemn Russian military action to protect important economic ties, AFP reported.

Xinhua state news agency on Friday cited Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying that the virtual BRICS summit will be chaired by Xi on June 23.

Hua said that the theme for this year would focus on "fostering high-quality BRICS partnerships (and) ushering in a new era for global development".

"China proposes to start the BRICS expansion process, explore the criteria and procedures for the expansion, and gradually form a consensus," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said.

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