Leaders of the BRICS nations may break with precedent by including a statement on Libya in their communique at the end of their meeting next week in Hainan.
Four of the five - Brazil, Russia, India and China - abstained when the UN Security Council voted on March 17 to impose a no-fly zone and authorise all necessary measures to protect civilians amid unrest in the North African country. The fifth, South Africa, backed the resolution.
The situation in the Middle East, and Libya in particular, was 'an issue the international community is concerned with, and this naturally will be an issue the BRICS leaders are very concerned with', Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong said yesterday at a briefing about the agenda for the Sanya summit of the heads of the leading emerging-market nations.
'I think the discussion of this issue [Libya] is very natural,' Wu said, while noting that none of the participants had as yet requested discussion of the Libyan situation.
In the event they did discuss it, their talks would be reflected in the summit communique now being drawn up, he said.
If the communique does contain the leaders' collective views on Libya - where forces loyal to its leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, are battling rebels for control of the country as Nato jets bomb military infrastructure and formations - it would be the BRICS' first statement on an urgent global political issue.
The communiqu? will be issued at the end of the one-day meeting, following which the five leaders - President Hu Jintao , his Brazilian, Russian and South African counterparts Dilma Rousseff, Dmitry Medvedev and Jacob Zuma, and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh - will hold a press conference.
Wu said China hoped the gathering would mark an important milestone in co-operation between the BRICS countries.
The leaders will discuss whether to establish a formal BRICS secretariat and how they see the grouping evolving. China was open to including more members in the BRICS 'discussion mechanism', Wu said. Brazil, Russia, India and China decided in January to invite South Africa to join the club.
The main focus of the discussions in Sanya will be the global economy. The countries are expected to agree on common positions in international trade and finance ahead of a summit in France later this year of the Group of 20 leading developed and developing nations. However, the issue of the yuan's exchange rate is not on the agenda. Countries including Brazil have said the yuan's undervaluation makes their exports uncompetitive and distorts global trade.
Wu said BRICS members acknowledged the existence of differences among themselves but would not let that fact get in the way of them co-operating. They would take up those differences when conditions for doing so were ripe.
Hu will chair the BRICS leaders' meeting on April 14, and a day later will speak at the Boao Forum for Asia, also being held in Hainan.