The French president would be the first Western leader to sit in on the gathering of emerging economies
French President Emmanuel Macron has asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for an invitation to the upcoming BRICS summit in Pretoria, French newspaper L’Opinion reported on Monday. Macron’s recent attempts to win over his African counterparts have fallen flat.
He raised the possibility of attending the summit during a phone call with Ramaphosa earlier this month, L’Opinion stated, citing sources in the Elysee palace.
According to one “well-informed” source, Ramaphosa was non-committal. “Presence at this summit was mentioned during the conversation between the two leaders, but Pretoria gave no indication of whether or not to extend this meeting to other international leaders,” the source said.
If Macron were to attend the summit, he would be the first leader of a G7 nation to do so. BRICS leaders and Macron apparently share a desire to overhaul the global financial and geopolitical order, with Macron hosting a conference in Paris next week aimed at overhauling the financial system to better benefit the developing world. Ramaphosa is due to attend the conference, and a cordial meeting between him and Macron could set the stage for the French president to make history in Pretoria.
However, Macron’s relations with the rest of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – are fractious at best, and Paris has sent mixed messages to these nations. For example, Macron has called for peace negotiations in Ukraine and put himself forward as a potential mediator, yet has backed a Ukrainian-drafted peace plan that Russia categorically rejects, while continuing to send heavy weapons to Kiev.
Likewise, Macron has asserted that Europe must not follow the US into a confrontation with China, and has opposed the opening of a controversial NATO liaison office in Japan.
However, he signed a joint communique with other G7 leaders last month labeling China “the greatest challenge to global security and prosperity in our time,” a position identical to that of the US.
Meanwhile in Africa, Macron’s condemnations of Russia have irritated France’s former colonies on the continent, who see Russia as a more reliable partner than their former master.
Since the term was first coined in 2001, BRICS has grown from an acronym into an informal alliance that has overtaken the US-led G7 bloc in its share of global GDP, has its own development bank, and counts Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Argentina among 19 prospective members.