New Delhi and Beijing - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed to Brazil yesterday for a meeting of the Brics group of emerging powers, hoping to seal the long-discussed deal to open a new development bank.

Modi will be the guest of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who will also host the leaders of Russia, China and South Africa tomorrow.

The countries are looking to set up a development bank to finance infrastructure projects as well as a reserve fund to fend off crises in currencies and balances of payments.

Modi was upbeat about the two economic initiatives finally taking shape.

“I look forward to the successful conclusion of major Brics initiatives, like the new development bank and the contingent reserve arrangement, which have seen significant progress since their launch in New Delhi in 2012,” he said.

“These initiatives will support growth and stability in Brics and also benefit other developing countries,” he said.

The bank and the reserve are being seen as a counterweight to Western-dominated financial organisations.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Modi will also have one-on-one meetings with the leaders of the participating countries, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I look forward to meaningful meetings with them to intensify bilateral relations and exchange views on global and regional developments,” Modi said.

Xi departed yesterday for a visit to four South American countries to build ties in a resources-rich region traditionally considered the backyard of the US.

He will pay formal state visits to Brazil, oil supplier Venezuela, long-time political ally Cuba and Argentina, a key source of soya beans for China.

China’s commercial hub of Shanghai is in the running to provide a home for the headquarters of the new Brics development bank, officials say. - Sapa-AFP