By Ethan Wang and Liz Lee
BEIJING (Reuters) -The expansion of BRICS will inject new vitality into the group's cooperation mechanism, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday before also announcing an upcoming launch of a $10-billion special fund aimed at bolstering global development.
The BRICS group of nations reached a broad consensus to invite six countries - Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - to join, in a move aimed at increasing the clout of a bloc that has pledged to champion the "Global South".
This is a historic expansion, which reflects the determination of BRICS countries to unite and cooperate with other developing countries, Xi said at the group's leaders' summit in South Africa's Johannesburg.
"This expansion meets the expectations of the international community and serves the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries," Xi added.
Xi also said that the BRICS countries "are all countries with great influence and shoulder important responsibilities for world peace and development".
In a separate address, Xi said that China "was, is, and will always be a member of the developing world".
He announced that Chinese financial institutions were soon launching a $10-billion special fund to implement the Global Development Initiative (GDI), a programme China launched in 2021 to promote economic and social development.
Xi's proposal for the GDI, born amid pandemic shocks to economies worldwide, was to foster cooperation for a more balanced, coordinated and inclusive global development in areas including poverty alleviation, food security and development financing.
He also said China will carry out more cooperation with African countries to support improving its capacity for independent development, including providing a complete set of data products for satellite mapping.
(Reporting by Ethan Wang, Albee Zhang and Liz Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar, William Maclean)