China and Russia have welcomed future expansion of the powerful group of the world’s emerging economies, known as BRICS, to include Iran, which has formally applied to join the bloc.
“We noticed that many countries, including Iran and Argentina, have favorably expressed their will to join BRICS,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference on Tuesday.
”As the BRICS chair for this year, China actively supports BRICS in starting the membership expansion process,” he added.
The BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The countries account for more than 40% of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world's gross domestic product.
Speaking on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian had forwarded a formal membership request to the group.
Back on Friday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi addressed the BRICS Business Forum’s virtual summit at China’s invitation, saying the Islamic Republic could serve as a “sustainable partner” connecting the BRICS to energy chokepoints and major markets around the globe given its unique geopolitical and geo-economic position.
‘Iran a worthy partner’
Also on Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on Tehran and Buenos Aires’ applications for BRICS’ membership, calling the countries “worthy and respected candidates,” Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
"The most important thing is that the preparatory process [for BRICS’ expansion] has been launched," the Russian top diplomat stressed, adding, "The main criterion here will be to ensure further effectiveness and increase the practical impact of the bloc’s work."