South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated that his country will not be drawn into global power dynamics.
Mr Ramaphosa’s televised address came ahead of the meeting of the Brics nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“We will not be drawn into a contest between global powers. Instead, our country strives to work with all countries for global peace and development,” he said.
He noted, however, that this “does not mean that we are neutral on matters of principle and national interest”.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will participate virtually after he reached agreement with Mr Ramaphosa not to attend.
He is the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. South Africa is required under its law to arrest him if he enters the country.
The Brics nations account for about a quarter of the global economy and interest in joining the group has surged this year.