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Yellen to visit Brazil for G20 meeting, Chile for bilateral talks

FILE PHOTO: US Treasury Secretary Yellen addresses a news conference during a G20 finance ministers' and Central Bank governors' meeting at Gandhinagar

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will join finance officials from the Group of 20 major economies for meetings in Sao Paolo, Brazil next week, and then travel on to Santiago, Chile for bilateral engagements, the Treasury said on Wednesday.

The G20 meetings come days after the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and as U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, remains at loggerheads with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives over $61 billion in aid for Ukraine.

During her meetings in Brazil, Yellen will "reiterate America’s resolute support for Ukraine as it marks the second anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion," Treasury said.

It said Yellen would reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to providing Ukraine "with the support it needs to sustain its defense, deny Russia access to the money and weapons it needs to wage its illegal war, and hold Russia accountable."

Biden on Tuesday told reporters that the U.S. will announce a major package of sanctions against Russia on Friday over the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the Ukraine war.

The latest sanctions on Russia will target a range of items, including the country's defense and industrial bases, along with sources of revenue for the economy, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Yellen will work with her counterparts to strengthen coordination and collaboration in supporting Ukraine and punishing Russia, Treasury said.

She will also coordinate with G20 counterparts to address "the humanitarian and economic consequences of conflict in the Middle East and counter destabilizing regional actors," it added, without specially mentioning Israel or Gaza.

Yellen's meetings will also stress the importance of collective action, focusing on reforms of multilateral development banks, strengthening the International Monetary Fund, tackling climate change, and address sovereign debt distress.

She will meet with Brazilian officials as part of Washington's broader push to deepen bilateral ties with the South American country, seen as a key economic partner as the U.S. works to reduce its reliance on China for critical goods.

In Chile, Yellen will meet with government officials and private sector leaders to deepen bilateral economic ties with a country that is a key supplier of critical minerals and is working to incentivize green energy.

"Continued collaboration on this shared priority benefits both the U.S. and Chile, as it creates good-paying jobs in both countries," Treasury said, citing Washington's effort to spur investments in clean energy, strengthen global energy security, and lower costs for consumers.

She may face some difficult conversations, given Chile's strong condemnation of Israel's bombardment of Gaza and Washington's continued support of Israel.

Treasury noted that the U.S. and Chile have a longstanding and strong relationship, based on shared values and bolstered by a free trade agreement and a new tax treaty – the first bilateral tax treaty to enter into force in over a decade.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)