South Africa will on Tuesday host a virtual summit of the BRICS group of nations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to discuss the Israel-Hamas war, Pretoria and Moscow said on Monday.
The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are a group of major emerging economies seeking to reshape the US and Western-led global order.
Tuesday's "Extraordinary Joint Meeting on the Middle East Situation in Gaza" will be hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the hope of drawing up a common response to the more than six-week conflict.
Leaders from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates – who are all due to join the BRICS group in January 2024 – will attend the meeting.
UN chief to participate
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also participate, the South African presidency said in a statement.
It added that all five BRICS heads of state will join the virtual summit, after which a joint statement with particular reference to Gaza is expected.
Fighting is raging in Gaza after Hamas launched an offensive on Israel on October 7. Approximately 1,200 people died, according to Israeli government's records.
In Gaza, around 13,300 people, more than 5,500 of them children, have been killed in the retaliatory air and ground offensive, officials in the Hamas-run territory have said.
Supporter of Palestine
South Africa has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.
Last Thursday, the ANC said that it would support a parliamentary motion to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel until it agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza, decrying the "genocidal actions of the Israeli regime."
On Friday, South Africa joined four other nations in calling for an International Criminal Court investigation into the Israel-Hamas conflict.
China has historically been sympathetic to the Palestinians and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Beijing has been calling for an immediate ceasefire since the start of the fighting last month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of stoking tensions in the Middle East, and criticised Israel for its conduct in the conflict.
Putin skipped the last BRICS annual summit in Johannesburg as he is the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant – a provision that South Africa as an ICC member would be expected to implement if he were to set foot in the country.