Food security high on agenda of BRIC, RIC troika in Yekatarinburg

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Yekatarinburg (Russia), May 13 : The issue of global food security is likely to dominate the agenda of the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) when they meet in the Russian city of Yekatarinburg later this week.

This fourth meeting of BRIC foreign ministers will commence on Friday (May 16) after Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee wraps up his three-day visit to the UAE.

The BRIC foreign ministers are meeting to enhance cooperation on global and economic issues among the four rapidly growing economies. The meeting will be the first stand-alone meeting of BRIC foreign ministers.

Mukherjee will meet his counterparts, Russia's Sergei Lavrov, Brazil's Celso Amorim and China's Yang Jiechi and discuss with them a broad range of issues aimed at deepening economic and strategic cooperation among the four emerging economic giants.

They will also review the international security situation and discuss a range of issues like counter-terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, and global economic issues like the food crisis, multilateral trade negotiations and climate change.

Goldman Sachs articulated the concept of BRIC in 2003 to underline complementarities among the four economies that will make them the economic powerhouse of the world in a few decades.

The BRIC meeting will be followed by a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of India, China and Russia.

The trilateral meeting will discuss ways and means to expand economic cooperation and coordination on global issues where the three nations have shared positions like global trade and environment.

The three ministers are also expected to discuss the situation in Central Asia and the peace process in the Middle East. The Iranian nuclear crisis and North Korea's nuclear programme will also come up for discussion.

Mukherjee is also likely to hold bilateral discussions with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov - the first high-level visit from the Indian side to Russia after President Dmitry Medvedev assumed office last week. Progress on the contentious Admiral Gorshkov ship deal and the building of additional civilian water-based nuclear reactors at the Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu are likely to come up for discussions. The Sino-Indian boundary issue, the anti-China protests by Tibetans, the devastating earthquake in south west China are likely to be discussed when Mukherjee meets his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi.

The three foreign ministers have also met on the sidelines of multilateral meetings in September 2002, September 2003, October 2004 and September 2005.

Both India and China, which have been held culpable by Washington for the current global food shortage are expected to take a hard stance on the allegation collectively. According to officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, the economic meltdown in the US, terrorism, energy security and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan is also likely to figure in the talks.

During their last meeting in Harbin (China) in September 2007, these three countries took a collective stand to reconciliate with the military junta in Myanmar and Iran. The troika is likely to join the chorus against granting the volatile region of Kosovo independence. y Naveen Kapoor

ANI

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