Prime Minister Modi arrives in South Africa to attend 15th BRICS summit

Johannesburg: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was warmly welcomed upon his arrival in South Africa on Tuesday on a three-day official visit during which he will attend the 15th BRICS summit and hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders.

Modi was welcomed by South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile at Waterkloof Air Force Base where he received a ceremonial guard of honour.

“PM @narendramodi touches down at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, South Africa. Warmly received by Deputy President @PMashatile of South Africa. Accorded a ceremonial welcome upon arrival,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Prime Minister Modi’s three-day visit to South Africa entails participation in the 15th BRICS Summit and engagements with leaders of BRICS and invited countries in plurilateral and bilateral settings, he added.

A large number of Indian community members, including activists of the Pretoria Hindu Seva Samaj and the local chapter of the BAPS Swaminarayan organisation, greeted him.

Modi then left for Sandton Sun Hotel in Johannesburg, the venue of the BRICS Summit. At the hotel, he met with local and expatriate Indian community members ahead of the BRICS Business Forum Leaders’ Dialogue. The Indian community members carrying musical instruments welcomed prime minister upon his arrival at the hotel.

At the community meeting, Modi is expected to view a model of the huge Swaminarayan Mandir which has been under construction since 2017 and is expected to be completed next year. The new temple at North Riding, north of Johannesburg, will be similar to one in Nairobi in Kenya, which is built entirely of stone. It will also include classrooms and a clinic.

Modi is visiting the African country from August 22 to 24 at the invitation of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. South Africa is hosting the first in-person summit of BRICS comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, since 2019.

Earlier in his departure statement in New Delhi, Modi said BRICS has been pursuing a strong cooperation agenda across various sectors.

“We value that BRICS has become a platform for discussing and deliberating on issues of concern for the entire Global South, including development imperatives and reform of the multilateral system,” he said.

This summit will provide a useful opportunity for BRICS to identify future areas of cooperation and review institutional development, he said.

Modi posted on X that he will also take part in the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue events. The Summit will give the platform to discuss issues of concern for the Global South and other areas of development.

The BRICS bloc – comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 41 per cent of the global population, 24 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of the global trade.

Over 20 heads of state from Africa and the Middle East have also been invited to attend. A number of them have applied to become members of BRICS, which is one of the matters on the agenda for the Summit.

Modi said in the statement that he looked forward to interacting with a number of guest countries that have been invited to participate in this event.

“I also look forward to holding bilateral meetings with some of the Leaders present in Johannesburg,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the BRICS summit virtually due to him facing possible arrest in terms of an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant if he lands in South Africa.

From South Africa, the prime minister will travel to Greece on August 25 at the invitation of his Greece counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It will be his first visit to this ancient land. “I have the honour to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Greece after 40 years,” he said.

Contacts between our two civilizations stretch back over two millennia and, in modern times, our ties have been strengthened by shared values of democracy, rule of law and pluralism, he said.

Cooperation in diverse sectors such as trade and investment, defence, and cultural and people-to-people contacts have been bringing our two countries closer, he added.

He looked forward to visiting Greece and opening a new chapter in our multifaceted relationship, Modi said, adding that he will also be interacting with the Indian community there.