Yellen says U.S. committed to G20 finance work despite divisions over war language

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen attends a press conference with Chile’s Finance Minister Mario Marcel (not pictured) at the Finance Ministry building in Santiago, Chile, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

By Andrea Shalal

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday that Washington was strongly committed to G20 finance ministers’ work, despite the group’s failure to reach consensus on communique language regarding wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Yellen said finance officials from the Group of 20 major economies had worked together successfully on shared priorities, including negotiation of a historic international tax treaty, creation of a fund for future pandemic threats, and joint efforts to reform multilateral development banks.

“That’s really just the beginning of the list,” she said. “So I think we’ve made substantial progress.”

G20 finance leaders failed to agree on a joint statement as they wrapped up two days of talks on Thursday, with divisions over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine overshadowing efforts to forge a consensus on global economic development.

Brazil, which hosted finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the G20 major economies, issued its own summary in lieu of a shared communique. India took a similar tack in its G20 presidency last year, but still rallied most of the G20 in condemnation of Russia for invading Ukraine.

G20 officials debated late into the night and down to the final hours of the meeting how to describe the wars in a joint communique, with Russia and major Western nations at loggerheads over the language, according to people familiar with the matter.

Yellen said the issue had proven intractable.

“Many countries, including the United States, expressed disapproval of Russia’s behavior in Ukraine, and also noted its highly negative economic repercussions for the globe as a whole including the least developed countries,” she told a news conference at Chile’s finance ministry. “We and many others also expressed tremendous concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. And I think there was broad agreement on these concerns.”

“It has been challenging, however, to find language on which there can be unanimity,” she said.


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