BENAULIM, India (AP) – The leaders of five of the world's rising powers ended a two-day summit Sunday with a pledge to speed global economic recovery as well as fight terrorism and extremism, forces that they said pose a threat to regional and international peace and stability.
Meeting in the beach resort state of Goa in southwestern India, the five countries known collectively as BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — adopted a final declaration endorsing their commitment to act against the financing of terror groups and their supplies of weapons and other equipment.
"We agree that those who nurture, shelter and support the forces of violence and terror are as much a threat as the terrorists themselves," the declaration said.
Presidents Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Michel Temer of Brazil and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and their host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also vowed in the declaration to tackle the global economic slowdown and reform the world's financial architecture.
The group, which represents nearly half of the world's population and a quarter of its economy, with a combined annual GDP of $16.6 trillion, renewed its commitment to speed global recovery by investing in infrastructure projects and the manufacturing sector.
The BRICS leaders adopted three agreements, including two to set up separate research networks for developing agriculture and railways. They agreed to crack down on economic crime by fighting tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.
"We have agreed to make the BRICS a strong voice on emerging regional and global issues," Modi told reporters.
The BRICs leaders stressed the need to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection, and hailed the early entry into force of the Paris climate agreement.
The BRICS nations agreed that the New Development Bank, which the group set up in 2014, should continue to focus on infrastructure, technology and renewable energy sectors, adding that "in order to further bridge the gap in the global financial architecture, we agreed to fast track the setting up of a BRICS credit rating agency."
"In a world of new security challenges and continuing economic uncertainties, BRICS stands as a beacon of peace, potential and promise," Modi said.
The thrust of the declaration reflected the flagging economic fortunes of the BRICS countries in recent years due to the global slowdown.
In Russia, the decline in global oil and commodity prices coupled with biting Western sanctions have dealt a blow to the economy. The Chinese economy has slowed to its slowest pace in 25 years, although its 7 percent growth rate still places it among the fastest-growing global economies.
South Africa remains caught in severe economic turmoil, with the country's credit rating at risk of being downgraded to junk by the end of the year.
Brazil is only just emerging from months of the worst economic recession it has seen since the 1930s, a situation that was further worsened by recent political turmoil.
India, although the fastest-growing country in the world at 7.5 percent annually, is grappling with widespread poverty and the challenge of strikes against militants in Kashmir.
The high priority that the summit's final declaration gave to fighting extremism will likely be seen as a major victory for India. New Delhi has long been trying to gather international support for the fight against terrorism stemming from its own concerns about militants who it says cross the border from Pakistan into Indian-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegation.