The theme for the meeting will be BRICS partnership for global stability, shared security and innovative growth Credit: File Photo

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to come face-to-face, virtually, during the 12th summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping to be held on November 17 via video conference.

This will be the first virtual multilateral meeting to be joined by the two leaders since the border standoff in Ladakh became public in May. India’s foreign ministers and defence ministers have participated in other meetings that featuring their Chinese counterparts in recent weeks.

According to a formal announcement on Monday from Russia, the current chair of the grouping, the BRICS Summit will focus on further strengthening cooperation among the member states amid the Covid-19 crisis. “The theme for the meeting will be BRICS partnership for global stability, shared security and innovative growth,” it said.

In May, Russia postponed that the BRICS Summit, which was to have been held in St Petersburg along with a meeting of the heads of state council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during July 21-23, due to the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Russia was keen on hosting the leaders of the five BRICS countries but several members expressed apprehensions about the holding of an actual summit in view of the risk of infections, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.

“Despite the current global situation due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, the activities under the Russian BRICS chairmanship in 2020 are carried out in a consistent manner,” said Anton Kobyakov, adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin and executive secretary of the organising committee, to prepare and support Russia’s SCO presidency in 2019-20 and Brics chairmanship in 2020.

“Since January 2020, more than 60 events have been organised, including via videoconferencing. The BRICS Summit will be the jewel-in-the-crown event of the Russian BRICS chairmanship, which will provide impetus for further strengthening cooperation together with our partners to ensure well-being of BRICS countries,” Kobyakov said.

During 2020, the five countries in the grouping continued their close strategic partnership on three major pillars, peace and security, economy and finance, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, he added.

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