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IBSA countries to discuss Syria, international crisis

Syria and the international economic crisis will be high on the agenda Tuesday of a summit between IBSA countries, the three emerging economies of the southern hemisphere India, Brazil and South Africa.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will meet South African leader Jacob Zuma in Pretoria during the fifth meeting of the group.

The bloody suppression of protesters in Syria will “obviously be one of the themes” discussed in the South African capital, Brazil’s head of diplomacy Antonion Patriota said.

Forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have killed more than 3,000 people in a fierce crackdown on people who took to the streets calling for greater freedoms since March this year, according to the UN,

In August the three IBSA countries sent a joint mission to Damascus and demanded an end to the violence.

Meanwhile rights organisation Human Rights Watch asked IBSA to force Syria through a UN General Assembly resolution to end arbitrary arrests and tortures and allow a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations.

“If the IBSA forum is to fulfil its founding goal of providing a credible alternative to the political dominance of the North, it needs to lead on human rights,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement Sunday.

IBSA countries also coordinate action as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

The three are seen as the most democratic of the BRICS group of major emerging nations, which include China and Russia.

Brazil also wants the three economies to examine the international economic and financial crisis during the summit.

“Brazil’s message will be to reiterate its concern with the worsening crisis, and its hope that the European Union will find a solution” to its debt problems, a senior government official said in Brasilia on Tuesday.

“However, we will discuss a common position for the G20 meeting that will take place in early November” in the French Riviera resort of Cannes, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The three leaders will also follow up on joint projects, including a $1 billion satellite to monitor climate change, and an international fund to fight poverty and hunger, the official said.

They will further discuss the growing trade between the three nations, which last year reached $17.5 billion.

Climate change is also probably an important theme ahead of the UN climate talks, which South Africa will host from November 28 in Durban as a last chance to find a way forward on fighting climate change, with the Kyoto Protocol’s commitments to cut carbon emissions expiring after 2012.

The three countries formed a united front in demanding emissions reduction and climate aid money at the last talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

The India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum — IBSA — was launched in 2003. Its combined population covered 1.384 billion people in 2008.