Development bank to allocate $15 bln to tackle virus fallout

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In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. Russia’s foreign minister has angrily rejected Western claims that Moscow is using the coronavirus crisis to expand its political influence. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday, April 14 that suggestions from some in the West that Russia had opaque motives for helping Italy respond to the virus resulted from “Russophobia.” (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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MOSCOW (AP) — The New Development Bank will allocate up to $15 billion for loans to help the so-called BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – boost their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

“We believe that it should become a very good reinforcement for our countries’ economies when they’re coming out of the crisis stage and resume economic operations,” Sergey Lavrov told reporters after a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers dedicated to the virus outbreak.

The pandemic has dealt a shock to the global economy, with governments all over the world taking measures to soften the blow.

The international community should unite to “ensure the most positive outcome of our efforts for our countries and our citizens,” Lavrov said Tuesday. He said these efforts are being undermined by sanctions imposed on countries and that the sanctions should be lifted.

“We support the plea of the UN Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to, at least suspend, and at best lift, these unilateral sanctions, imposed in contravention of the UN,” Lavrov said.

The U.S. and EU sanctions, imposed in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, have limited Russia’s access to global financial markets and blocked transfers of Western technologies. Russia responded by banning imports of most Western agricultural products.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi echoed Lavrov’s call for unity. In a statement released by the ministry, Wang said that the BRICS nations should “stand firm by multilateralism, by the UN-centered international system” and “champion the approach of consultation and cooperation.”

“Through joint efforts, we will safeguard the legitimate rights and interests and space for development not just for ourselves but also for all other emerging market and developing countries,” the minister said.

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