June 10, 2024

Egyptian Foreign Minister Embarks on Trip to Russia to Attend BRICS Meeting, Spokesman Says

DUBAI (Sputnik) – Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has left for Russia to attend a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Sunday. The ministerial meeting of the BRICS group of developing economies will take place in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod from June 10-11. Russia’s sous-sherpa for BRICS, Pavel Knyazev, estimated that about 20-25 nations were expected to attend. “Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry left Sunday morning for the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod to attend a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by the Middle East News Agency. Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the group of the world’s largest emerging economies on January 1. Until recently, the organization consisted of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It admitted four new full members in January: Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

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Russia Helps Zimbabwe Become Self-Sufficient, President Mnangagwa States

Exclusive From June 5 to 8, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) was held in St. Petersburg, which was attended by Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He took part in the SPIEF plenary session and also held negotiations with the Russian leader. Sputnik Africa had the honor of interviewing Mnangagwa on the sidelines of the forum. Russia assists Zimbabwe in achieving self-sufficiency, the president of the African country, Emmerson Mnangagwa, told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview conducted on the sidelines of the SPIEF 2024. The countries actively interact in the field of science and technology. “[…] We focus on cooperation in science and technology. We are sending dozens and dozens, perhaps hundreds and hundreds of students to study science and technology in the Russian Federation. Because we feel that every developed country is on the basis of embracing science and technology,” Zimbabwe’s president said. Moreover, one of the main areas of cooperation between the countries is agriculture. “They [Russia] are supporting us with fertilizer so that we become self-sufficient. Zimbabwe has been self-sufficient in food security. But the biggest constraint we have is access to the appropriate fertilizer for our region. And that we can get from the Russian Federation,” he said. In 2023, Russia donated 11,000 tonnes of potash fertilizers to Zimbabwe, which helped ensure the country’s food security. In 2024, 25,000 tonnes of Russian wheat were supplied free of charge as part of the implementation of decisions taken following the results of the second Russia-Africa Summit. At the same time, the Uralchem Group of companies donated 23,000 tonnes of mineral fertilizers. At the SPIEF, Mnangagwa thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the transfer of fertilizers to Harare. “Let me on behalf of my country, my people, and myself personally express my deepest gratitude for your continued support for our sanctioned country,” he said. Speaking of sanctions, the African president noted that they have failed to “stifle” the Zimbabwean economy; on the contrary, they have even helped it develop as the country has shifted its focus on internal problems to modernize the economy. “We are doing better in the entire region in our economic growth year by year because of sanctions. So we are also anxious that the Americans should not remove their sanctions so that we continue focusing and doing better. Those countries without sanctions in our region are not doing as good as we are doing,” he pointed out. Discussing the economy, Mnangagwa noted that his country is “on the correct path” toward making Zimbabwe an industrial hub. “Well, it is us who must focus on what we need to industrialize our country. Zimbabwe is now at the threshold to do that because we have a thriving mining industry that needs access to global capital as well as global skills. And that is happening. Then also, Zimbabwe has a highly qualified, highly educated workforce, which is complementary to the question of workforce in modern countries,” he explained. Economic progress has helped Zimbabwe meet the conditions for joining BRICS. “I’ve discussed this with my dear brother, president Putin, that I think we are now ready to join because we now have a solid currency in Zimbabwe. And our economy is now based on solid fundamentals of economics. […] So we now know that we fulfil the requirements to qualify to join the BRICS,” Mnangagwa said. Zimbabwe have been subject to currency fluctuations, and therefore it was decided to introduce a currency that would be backed by the country’s gold reserves. “We are suffering from the fluctuations of an incurred currency. So one time, you know, the inflation could fly in our face. […] We decided that we need a currency, a solid currency based on our gold reserves. […] And that’s what we have done. So our currency is now called ZIG, which is Zimbabwe Gold,” the head of state added. Aside from that, Zimbabwe’s leader revealed to Sputnik Africa that the upcoming summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will show whether the country is ready to host the Russia-Africa Summit. “We ourselves designated to hold a SADC summit, this is about 16 countries in our region, in August this year. That will tell us whether we are now grown up enough to host a conference of that nature,” Mnangagwa said. The president noted that if the country sees that it is not yet ready to host the summit, it would aim to achieve the required level of infrastructure development over the next few years. Perhaps, if the Russia-Africa summit is held in Zimbabwe, the nation will use the new city that it is building in preparation for the SADC summit. “So we are in a difficult time right now, we hardly sleep. We are creating a new city… Of course, we are not such cool guys as those who gathered here [at the SPIEF]. We do not have infrastructure that was built a long time ago. [But] we are growing. I like what we can achieve the infrastructure needed to hold a regional conference,” Mnangagwa said. After the SADC summit, the country will have infrastructure that can be used for holding major events. In particular, Mnangagwa proposed holding a Russia-Zimbabwe summit and invited Putin to the country. Last but not least, talking about Russia, the African leader pointed out that Russia adheres to the principle of brotherhood, not a “horse and rider” relationship. “The difference I see is that the Russian approach is of comradeship, brotherhood, not horse and rider. So this is why we favor an approach of friendship, of equality, of brotherhood rather than of principle and the student. The horse rider is more cruel, but that of teacher and student,” Mnangagwa concluded, wishing success to Sputnik news agency.

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Republic of Congo Interested in Russian Investments, Minister Says

Foreign delegations from 95 countries took part in SPIEF 2024, which was held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on June 5-8, including 63 heads of the diplomatic corps and 48 foreign ministers, with honored guests, the presidents of Zimbabwe and Bolivia. The Republic of the Congo welcomes Russian investment in the development of natural capital, the country’s Minister of Planning, Statistics and Regional Integration Ingrid Olga Ghislaine Ebouka-Babackas told the Russian media on Sunday. She emphasized that Congo and Russia have been cooperating for 60 years, since 1964, and this cooperation is most developed in the field of education, since “Russia educates Congolese students.” According to the minister, it is of importance that this partnership is strengthened by “promoting greater participation of Russian companies in the development process of the Congo. Our national development plan for 2022-2026 includes several projects that should be of interest to the Russian private sector.” Furthermore, Brazzaville welcomes Russia’s contribution to the nation’s natural capital development strategy, she added. Congo has several large projects that require significant financial resources, the minister emphasized. And in order to finance these projects, the contribution of all partners is required in all forms: loans, public-private partnerships, donations, private investments, she said. “The financial capabilities of the new BRICS+ investment bank should become a lever to facilitate the implementation of these integration projects,” Ebouka-Babackas added. The Congolese official emphasized that this is a great opportunity for Russian companies to expand their business portfolio and reach the international level. Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov completed his sixth African tour, where he visited Guinea, Congo, Burkina Faso and Chad. In these countries, he held meetings both with the leaders of the countries and with his colleagues and foreign ministers. In 2023, he made two more similar trips.

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