BENGALURU, Feb. 25 (Reuters) – Financial leaders of the world’s major economies were unable to resolve disagreements over Ukraine’s war on Saturday and moved slowly forward with steps to restructure the debts of distressed countries, people familiar with were in the discussions.
The meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the Group of 20 (G20), hosted by India, was likely to end later in the day without a joint communiqué, as there was no consensus on how to describe the conflict in Ukraine. told Reuters.
The United States and its allies in the Group of Seven (G7) industrial powers are adamant in demanding the communiqué roundly condemn Russia for invading its neighbor a year ago, but Russian and Chinese delegations have opposed such language. resists.
Russia and China were upset by the use of the G20 platform to discuss political matters, two of the delegates said.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously told Reuters it was “absolutely necessary” that there be a statement in the communiqué condemning Russia.
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“And I think the G7 certainly agrees on that, so it’s something I would expect and I think is necessary and appropriate,” she said.
Russia, a member of the G20 but not the G7, calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” and avoids calling it an invasion or war.
India is urging the meeting not to use the word “war” in any communiqué, G20 officials have previously told Reuters.
India, which holds the G20 presidency this year, has maintained a largely neutral stance on the war, not blaming Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and greatly increasing its purchases of Russian oil.
India and China were among the countries to abstain on Thursday as the UN voted overwhelmingly to demand that Moscow withdraw its troops from Ukraine and stop fighting.
In addition to the G7 countries, the G20 bloc also includes countries such as Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
The delegates said the meeting would likely end with a statement from the host summarizing the discussions.
“If there is no consensus, the option for India would be to issue a presidential statement,” an official said.
India’s foreign, finance and information ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On the sidelines, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held a meeting with the World Bank, China, India, Saudi Arabia and the G7 on Saturday about restructuring debt for distressed economies, but there were disagreements among members, said IMF director Kristalina Georgiava.
“We just completed a session where it was clear that there is a commitment to bridging differences for the benefit of countries,” Georgieva, who co-chaired the roundtable with India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, told reporters.
A deputy told Reuters that some progress had been made initially, mainly on the language surrounding the matter, but that the restructuring was not discussed in detail.
Yellen said there were no “deliverables” from the meeting, which was mostly organizational.
Further discussions of the panel are planned around the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in April.
Pressure has been put on China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor, and other countries to take a hefty write-down on loans to troubled developing countries.
In a video address at the G20 meeting on Friday, China’s Finance Minister Liu Kun reiterated Beijing’s position that the World Bank and other multilateral development banks should participate in debt relief by taking haircuts with bilateral creditors.
Yellen had said before the debt meeting that she would urge all bilateral creditors, including China, to engage in meaningful discussions, adding that debt treatment for Zambia and financing guarantees for Sri Lanka were “very urgent”.
Zambia owed Beijing nearly $6 billion of a total foreign debt of $17 billion by the end of 2021, according to government data, while Ghana owes China $1.7 billion, according to the International Institute of Finance, a financial services trade association that focuses on emerging markets.
According to calculations by the China Africa Research Initiative think tank, Sri Lanka owed $7.4 billion to Chinese lenders by the end of 2022, or nearly a fifth of government external debt.
Reporting by Shivangi Acharya, Sarita Singh, Aftab Ahmed, Christian Kraemer and David Lawder Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry
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