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Yellen to Attend G-20 Sessions as U.S. Retreats on Boycott Idea

Yellen to Attend G-20 Sessions as U.S. Retreats on Boycott Idea

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. backed further away from any suggestion that its officials would boycott Group of 20 meetings if their Russian counterparts attend, as the Treasury Department said Secretary Janet Yellen will participate in some sessions this week.

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Yellen will avoid some meetings of the G-20’s finance ministers in Washington, but will attend others focused on the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That includes the opening session, which will be attended by Ukraine’s finance minister, a senior Treasury official said. Speaking on a call with reporters Monday, the official said Yellen doesn’t want Russia’s participation to stop work the U.S. and its allies must do in the context of the G-20 meetings.

Another official familiar with plans for the meetings said Yellen would not take part in sessions dedicated to international financial architecture and sustainable finance, meetings she would otherwise have attended.

The G-20 meetings in Washington are expected to be a hybrid of in-person and virtual attendees. The official said Russia’s finance minister might attend virtually.

Earlier this month Yellen had said U.S. officials wouldn’t take part in some G-20 meetings this year in which Russia is allowed to take part.

“I’ve made clear to my colleagues in Indonesia that we will not be participating in a number of meetings if the Russians are there,” Yellen told lawmakers during a congressional hearing April 6. Indonesia holds the rotating presidency of the group and is a key organizer for G-20 events this year.

The Treasury clarified while Yellen was still testifying that she was referring only to G-20 finance ministers’ gatherings scheduled for this week in Washington in conjunction with the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

President Joe Biden on March 24 called on G-20 countries to expel Russia from the group. There hasn’t been an indication that such a plan has gained traction.

For their part, Yellen and her deputy secretary, Wally Adeyemo, will each participate in multiple events this week as part of, or on the sidelines of IMF-World Bank meetings.

Yellen plans to prioritize efforts to punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, dealing with the economic fallout from that war and with other issues including climate change.

She plans to meet Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and will hold a press conference on Thursday.

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