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BENGALURU: Finance leaders of the world’s top economies sought on Friday to bridge differences over how to deal with Russia following its year-old invasion of Ukraine as the West stepped up sanctions against Moscow.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen accused Russian officials at the two-day Group of Twenty (G20) meeting in the Indian city of Bengaluru of being “complicit” in war atrocities.

But, underlining the split with those nations which have not joined efforts to isolate the Russian economy, meeting host India avoided mention of the year-long war in inaugural remarks and said the global economy faced a range of other challenges.

G7 finance ministers to discuss more Russia sanctions

“I would urge that your discussions should focus on the most vulnerable citizens of the world,” Prime Minister NarendraModi said, adding that stability, confidence and growth had to be brought back to the world economy.

Modi cited the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, rising debt levels, disruptions to supply chains and threats to food and energy security as key concerns for the talks.

India does not want the bloc to discuss sanctions on Russia and is also pressing to avoid using the word “war” in any G20 communique to describe the conflict, G20 officials told Reuters.

But French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said there was no way the grouping could step back from a joint statement agreed at a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last November, which noted that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine”.

“Either we have the same language or we do not sign on the final communique,” Le Maire told reporters.

Such stand-offs have become increasingly common in the G20, a forum created over 20 years ago in response to past economic crises but which has been recently hobbled by differences between Western nations and others including China and Russia.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, Yellen urged G20 economies to “redouble their efforts to support Ukraine and restrict Russia’s capacity to wage war”.

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