Iranian and Chinese presidents met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit Thursday and emphasized the importance of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, Tehran said.
The official government news agency IRNA carried a report on the summit headlined by a quote by President Ebrahim Raisi saying, “Iran’s membership in the bloc is opposition to American unilateralism.”
The BRICS group of nations reached a broad consensus to invite six countries - Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - to join, in a move aimed at increasing the clout of a bloc that has pledged to champion the "Global South".
This is a historic expansion, which reflects the determination of BRICS countries to unite and cooperate with other developing countries, Xi said at the group's leaders' summit in South Africa's Johannesburg.
"This expansion meets the expectations of the international community and serves the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries," Xi added.
Raisi told the summit Iran Iran supports efforts by the BRICS group of emerging economies to move away from dependence on the US dollar.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran very resolutely supports the successful endeavors of BRICS in line with de-dollarization from the trade and economic interactions between the members and also making use of local currencies," he said.
Amid its economic isolation from the West and having few trading partners worldwide, the Islamic Republic views BRICS as a possible savior, with continuous propaganda domestically to present its membership as a critical accomplishment.
However, individual countries make economic decisions based on their interests and they see Iran, which is under US banking sanctions, as a risky proposition. The Islamic Republic has also created a heavily government controlled economic system not conducive to foreign investments.
In his meeting with China’s XI Jinping, Raisi emphasized that the invitation for Iran to join BRICS highlights the bloc’s opposition to the United States, and expressed hope that relations with China will be boosted. Tehran already has a 25-year cooperation agreement with Beijing, with details kept mostly secret, but Iranian officials have often referred to a Chinese pledge to invest $400 million in their country. However, in more than two years after the deal was officially concluded there is little sign of any investments.
IRNA quoted President Xi as having told Raisi that his country hopes to expand bilateral cooperation with Iran “to strengthen multilateralism.”
BRICS - whose acronym was originally coined by an economist at Goldman Sachs, currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Deepening geopolitical polarization in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's declining relations with the United States are spurring efforts by Beijing and Moscow to forge BRICS into a viable counterweight to the West.
"BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous," said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is hosting a summit of BRICS leaders.
Henry Rome, Senior Fellow and Iran analyst at the Washington Institute, commented,“Iran’s invitation to the BRICS group likely will provide little in terms of practical benefits. But, like admission to the SCO, it will probably fuel the conviction among some Iranian leaders that Tehran can escape its isolation absent a nuclear deal.”