French President Emmanuel Macron could take part in the BRICS Summit in South Africa in August. His Foreign Affairs Minister, Catherine Colonna, stated on Tuesday that she had informed Pretoria of "President Macron's availability and interest".
"I told my counterpart Mrs. Pandor (...) of the President's availability and his interest in continuing the dialogue that France is maintaining with the BRICS", Catherine Colonna told the press at the end of an official visit to South Africa.
The decision to invite Mr. Macron "must be taken, not by France, but by the BRICS and first and foremost by South Africa, which is the host of the summit", the minister added.
The day before, at a joint press conference with the head of South African diplomacy, Naledi Pandor, Catherine Colonna had made it clear that any such invitation would have to be "in full compliance with international law", in reference to the possible attendance of Vladimir Putin following the issuance of an arrest warrant by the ICC for alleged "responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and the crime of unlawful transfer of population (children), from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation" against the Russian president.
The Russian president is the target of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the war crime of "deporting" Ukrainian children as part of Moscow's offensive against Ukraine.
This arrest warrant is upsetting Pretoria, which has been close to the Kremlin since the days of the fight against apartheid but is a member of the ICC and is supposed to arrest Mr. Putin if he sets foot on its soil.
Pretoria has refused to condemn Moscow since the start of the war in Ukraine, claiming to adopt a neutral position and to want to encourage dialogue, which irritates many partners on the international stage.
"President Macron's participation, if it were to take place, would be a first in the practices adopted to date at BRICS summits", Mrs. Pandor replied on Monday.
"It is the host who determines who should be invited," she added, adding that the decision rests with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The BRICS group includes five countries: South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Russia.