Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that at least a dozen countries are interested in joining the emerging economies bloc BRICS.
"Interest in this global association is very, very high and continues to grow. It's not just Algeria, Argentina, and Iran. In fact, there are more than a dozen such countries," the minister told a news conference in Moscow, following a meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Currently, the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- are working out formal criteria for entering the bloc, Lavrov added.
"Since the applications are already being submitted officially, of course, we expect that working out the criteria and principles for admitting new members to BRICS will not take too long," he said, noting that first it is necessary to understand how the bloc will develop further in a potentially expanded composition.
Lavrov praised Russia-India cooperation, saying the bilateral trade volume will soon reach $30 billion.
He also informed that Russia and India continue discussions on the joint production of advanced weapons, and the countries successfully develop cooperation in the area of atomic energy and space exploration.
The minister said he also briefed Jaishankar about details of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.
"We discussed the situation that is currently developing around the attempts of our Western colleagues, under the pretext of Ukrainian events, to strengthen their dominant role in world affairs and not allowing the democratization of international relations," he said.
Next week's Afghanistan meeting in Moscow
Lavrov also explained why the representatives of the Taliban -- de facto rulers of Afghanistan -- were not invited to a meeting on Afghanistan to be held in Moscow next week.
According to the minister, the Taliban have failed to fulfil their promises about reforms in the country and to create "a more inclusive government," which would have representatives of different political, ethnic, and religious groups.
But Lavrov promised that Russia will convey to the Taliban the results of the work of the Moscow meeting.
"We have regular contact with representatives of the Taliban. They will be informed about what the participants of the Moscow format meeting will do. Of course, we do not have any secrets from the representatives of Afghanistan, we will thoroughly brief the Taliban and other political forces that exist there," he said.
The Moscow format includes Russia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The previous meeting, held on Oct. 20 last year, was attended by the Taliban delegation led by deputy chairman of the interim government Abdul Salam Hanafi.
The new meeting, according to Russian Presidential envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, will take place on Nov. 16.
- India 'strongly opposes' Moscow-Kyiv war
For his part, Jaishankar said India strongly opposes the war in Ukraine, because the conflict in one part creates disturbances in other parts of the world.
He also stressed that the situation in Afghanistan does not have as much attention as it deserves.
Jaishankar evaded the direct answer to a question about India's position on introducing price caps on Russia's oil, saying India has a great demand on hydrocarbons.
"We have a duty (before our people) to have an access to the global energy market at the most profitable conditions," he said.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.