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6 countries have been invited to join BRICS, a group of emerging nations

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The BRICS group of emerging nations has invited six more countries to join the bloc which aims to challenge perceived Western dominance in global affairs. China's President Xi Jinping, one of the original member countries, called the expansion historic as the summit wrapped up in Johannesburg, from where Kate Bartlett reports.

KATE BARTLETT: In the end, despite some hiccups along the way, summit host South African President Cyril Ramaphosa could claim a certain amount of success.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA: We have decided to invite the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

BARTLETT: These six countries can now join the emerging block of nations, BRICS - the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - on January 1, next year. Together, the five current members already comprise about 40% of the global population and a quarter of global gross domestic product. But it's hardly a homogenous grouping, and these additions will make it less so.

STEVEN GRUZD: Might be some surprises there, particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia in the same organization, given their rivalry over many years.

BARTLETT: Steven Gruzd is an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

GRUZD: What will this do to the BRICS? We'll have to see as time goes by whether it will change the approach, the ethos and particularly the tone.

BARTLETT: But their additions will no doubt make the bloc stronger, especially with the inclusion of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Russia's Vladimir Putin, the leader of another major oil producer and BRICS member, attended the summit virtually. That allowed South Africa to avoid the diplomatic nightmare of having to arrest him for war crimes in Ukraine under an international criminal court warrant.

For NPR News, I'm Kate Bartlett in Johannesburg.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVIL NEEDLE'S "OPIATE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Kate Bartlett