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Brazil's Lula says BRICS to pick new members based on geopolitical weight

BRICS Summit in Johannesburg

(Reuters) -Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday that the BRICS countries will welcome more members who will be chosen according to their geopolitical importance and not the ideology of their governments.

At their summit in Johannesburg, the five BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - decided to add Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, a move aimed at increasing the clout of the bloc of leading emerging economies.

"What matters is not the person who governs but the importance of the country," Lula said at a news conference before leaving South Africa.

"We can't deny the geopolitical importance of Iran and other countries that will join BRICS," he added.

The expansion is expected to pave the way for dozens more countries to seek admission to the group as it pushes to rebalance the prevailing world order.

Lula said Brazil would support the entry of Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS and 22 have formally asked to be admitted to the group that today accounts for about 40% of the world's population and a quarter of global gross domestic product.

Lula suggested that a meeting between the G7 group of the world's richest democracies and the BRICS nations would be an important next step.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)