By Steve Gutterman
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia wants the BRICS group of major emerging economies to broaden its role and get more involved in geopolitics, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published on Friday.
Putin, who has frequently criticised European and U.S. activities and has teamed up with fellow BRICS nation China to counter Western clout, spoke before a summit next week of the group, which also includes Brazil, India and South Africa.
He told news agency Itar-Tass that the BRICS members were working on joint declarations on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear programme, the situation in the Middle East and other issues.
"We invite our partners to gradually transform BRICS from a dialogue forum that coordinates approaches to a limited number of issues into a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism that will allow us to look for solutions to key issues of global politics together," Putin said according to a Kremlin transcript of the interview.
BRICS leaders are expected to use the March 26-27 meeting in Durban, South Africa to endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool and an infrastructure bank, senior emerging market officials said on Thursday.
Putin, who wants more for foreign investment to bolster Russia's economy, said Russia plans to announce the creation of a BRICS Business Council to promote trade and investment within the group and help launch multilateral business projects.