(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is still considering an invitation to become a member of the BRICS bloc of countries after being asked to join by the group last year, a Saudi official source told Reuters.
The source commented after South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said on Wednesday the kingdom had joined the grouping.
"Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to the invitation to join BRICS. It is still under consideration," the Saudi official source said in a statement to Reuters.
The group in August invited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran, Argentina and Ethiopia to join from Jan. 1, although Argentina signalled it would not take up the invitation in November.
The expansion of the BRICS group, whose current members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, would give it additional economic heft and could also boost its declared ambition to become a champion of the Global South, helping reshuffle a world order it views as outdated.
Faisal Alibrahim, Saudi Arabia's economy minister, earlier this month said the kingdom was still looking into the matter.
Riyadh is weighing its options against a backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions between the United States, China and Russia, and as the kingdom's warming ties with Beijing have caused concern in Washington.
Fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member the UAE United Arab Emirates has said it had joined the bloc.