CAPE TOWN–The BRICS forum which brings together Brazil, India, China, Russia and South Africa, constitutes one of the cornerstones of South Africa’s foreign policy, says the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco).

Through our engagement in BRICS, we have worked not only to generate ideas, projects and programmes that are innovative and responsive to the realities that our countries and citizens face, we have equally focused our efforts on the practical implementation of our ambitions. We have done so in a way that has yielded tangible results, said DIRCO Director-General Kgabo Mahoai.

Speaking at the opening of the BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas meeting here Monday, Mahoai said the main pillar of South Africa’s foreign policy is Africa, and he stressed that South Africa had sought to carry the African Agenda into the BRICS engagements.

We intend to further engender a meaningful and productive inter-action between BRICS and our African partners, whilst attempting to contribute to the BRICS institution-building agenda, through the two proposals we have put forward, namely the establishment of a working group on peacekeeping and the virtual vaccine research platform, said Mahoai.

The meeting, which brings representatives from the five major emerging economies, is the first in the calendar under the auspices of South Africa’s chair of BRICS in 2018, which it assumed in January. The meeting will discuss the working arrangements for BRICS.

South Africa is scheduled to host the 10th BRICS Summit from July 25 to 27 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johanneburg, which will see the country building on the BRICS programme of development and prosperity for partner countries.

Mahoai said the meeting will discuss proposed new areas of co-operation, such as the establishment of a working group on peacekeeping, and a platform for collaboration with the BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners.