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U.S. Leaves World Bank-IMF Meeting in Protest as Russia Speaks

International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings signage outside the IMF headquarters in Washington on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. The IMF slashed its world growth forecast by the most since the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, and projected even faster inflation, after Russia invaded Ukraine and China renewed virus lockdowns.

Officials representing the U.S., Germany, Japan, and other nations walked out of a joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund gathering on Friday when Russia’s envoy started speaking, the second such action at high-profile gatherings in Washington this week, people familiar with the situation said. 

The representatives were attending a meeting of the institution’s development committee, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the gathering is private. The committee is a ministerial-level forum of the World Bank and the IMF for intergovernmental consensus-building on development issues and has 25 members, usually ministers of finance or development, according to its website.

On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and other finance ministers and central bank governors walked out of a Group of 20 meeting, with Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland posting a photo of those who took part on her Twitter account and saying “the world’s democracies will not stand idly by in the face of continued Russian aggression and war crimes.” Canada’s representative, along with officials from Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom, also walked out of the Friday meeting, the people said.

Read more: Yellen-Led Walkout Shows Decline of Premier World Economic Club

This week’s meeting was the first of the G-20 since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began and was closely watched for signs of how the world’s leading international bodies are responding to Moscow’s aggression. The group, conceived in the 1990s to bring the biggest developed and emerging markets into a single forum to address key global challenges, failed this week to issue a joint communique following the meeting in Washington.

(Updates with details on committee membership in second paragraph.)

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