WASHINGTON: The gathering of world leaders at the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings brings an “opportunity” for progress in tapping immobilised Russian assets to aid Ukraine, a senior US Treasury official said on Monday.

Leaders including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will represent the United States at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank talks this week in Washington — covering issues including the impact of Iran’s recent attack on Israel.

In particular, conversations are set to “include ways to unlock the value of immobilised Russian sovereign assets to support Ukraine’s continued resistance and long-term reconstruction,” the Treasury official told reporters.

The comments come on the back of mounting calls in Washington and Europe to set up a fund for Ukraine using billions of dollars in Russia bank accounts, investments and other assets frozen by the West over Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor in 2022.

Plan afoot to unlock value of immobilised assets to support Ukraine’s reconstruction

On Monday, the Treasury official also told reporters: “I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend.” Calling Iran and proxies a “destabilising force” in the Middle East, the official added that recent events are due to be a significant topic of conversation in meetings while President Joe Biden leads an international response.

On Wednesday, Yellen will have a meeting with counterparts from Japan and South Korea to coordinate on issues ranging from sanctions to secure supply chains, according to the Treasury.

Yellen will also stay focused on managing US relations with China, following her recent travel to the country where she raised concerns on its excess industrial capacity.

“We hope to make further headway on our shared work on sustainable finance,” the Treasury official said.

The Treasury Department is set to host a fourth meeting of the US-China economic and financial working groups this week as well.

The aim is to start exchanging more detailed data and try to make progress on issues like balanced economic growth — including the issue of overcapacity.

Asset swap scheme

The Russian broker organising a frozen asset swap scheme that could free up stranded funds for Russian and non-resident investors has seen tens of billions of roubles of demand from foreigners including US banks and funds, it said on Monday.

Moscow presents the plan as a way for both Russian and foreign investors to free up assets that have been blocked by Western sanctions and Russian counter-measures since the start of the conflict in Ukraine more than two years ago.

There has been strong demand from Russian retail investors, Alexei Yakovlev, director of the finance ministry’s financial policy department, said earlier this month. Retail investors wishing to participate have until May 8 to submit offers.

Voronezh-based broker Investitsionnaya Palata (Investment Chamber) was appointed by the finance ministry to run the scheme.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2024

Opinion

Budgeting without people

Budgeting without people

Even though the economy is a critical issue, discussions about it involve a select few who are not really interested in communicating with the people.

Editorial

Iranian tragedy
Updated 21 May, 2024

Iranian tragedy

Due to Iran’s regional and geopolitical influence, the world will be watching the power transition carefully.
Circular debt woes
21 May, 2024

Circular debt woes

THE alleged corruption and ineptitude of the country’s power bureaucracy is proving very costly. New official data...
Reproductive health
21 May, 2024

Reproductive health

IT is naïve to imagine that reproductive healthcare counts in Pakistan, where women from low-income groups and ...
Wheat price crash
Updated 20 May, 2024

Wheat price crash

What the government has done to Punjab’s smallholder wheat growers by staying out of the market amid crashing prices is deplorable.
Afghan corruption
20 May, 2024

Afghan corruption

AMONGST the reasons that the Afghan Taliban marched into Kabul in August 2021 without any resistance to speak of ...
Volleyball triumph
20 May, 2024

Volleyball triumph

IN the last week, while Pakistan’s cricket team savoured a come-from-behind T20 series victory against Ireland,...