Security tight at Indian beach resort venue of BRICS summit

AP News
Posted: Oct 15, 2016 8:58 AM
Security tight at Indian beach resort venue of BRICS summit

BENAULIM, India (AP) — India's beach resort state of Goa was turned into a high-security zone Saturday, with thousands of paramilitary troops, coast guard personnel and police officers guarding venues where the leaders of five emerging market economies are meeting over the weekend.

Sniffer dogs and troops with mine detectors combed the white sandy beaches adjacent to the five-star hotel in the village of Benaulim where the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting for their eighth BRICS summit, beginning with a dinner on Saturday and ending on Sunday.

Expectations are high among the five big, developing nations, with poverty alleviation and infrastructure development high on the agenda.

The five BRICS countries represent nearly half the world's population and a quarter of its economy, with a combined GDP of $16.6 trillion. The leaders at the summit will be struggling to temper their tendency to compete, rather than collaborate, in boosting their slowing economies.

Among other things, they are likely to buttress their development-focused economic agenda with a decision to establish their own credit-rating agency, which they argue would treat developing countries more fairly than existing ones favoring Western economies.

They are also mulling founding a think tank to help shape international dialogues on finance. More modest aims include easing visa restrictions for business leaders and increasing investments from China, especially for funding infrastructure projects.

They already have launched a financing alternative to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank intended to expand lending for infrastructure projects, initially within their countries. The Shanghai-based New Development Bank approved its first set of loans totaling $911 million this year for renewable energy projects in the five founding member nations.

India has renewed its efforts to put terrorism on the summit agenda after the recent killing of 19 Indian soldiers by militants who allegedly came from across the border in Pakistan.

Terrorism was a top topic in talks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi held with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

Modi said Russia's stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrored India's position. In a joint statement issued after their talks, Modi and Putin stressed the need for zero tolerance in dealing with terrorists and their supporters.

Officials say India is pushing for a strong statement against terrorism to emerge at the end of the BRICS summit. But it is not yet clear whether China will agree to a condemnation of countries that provide safe havens to terror groups, a formulation that could be interpreted as a reference to Pakistan.

India has long accused Pakistan of allowing militants to operate out of its territory, but Islamabad denies the allegation. Modi is expected to take up the matter when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping later Saturday.