WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is telling his Russian counterpart that Russia could face tougher economic sanctions because of its actions in Ukraine.
Lew delivered the message Thursday in a meeting with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.
The U.S. Treasury said that Lew warned Siluanov that the United States is prepared to impose "additional significant sanctions" if Russia escalates the Ukraine situation. Treasury said that Lew described Russia's annexation of Crimea as "illegal and illegitimate."
Lew's comments came in advance of a meeting Thursday of finance officials from the Group of Seven major industrial countries. The issue of Western sanctions on Russia was to be discussed at the meeting.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
The head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday the global economy is finally turning the corner after a deep recession but the recovery remains too weak.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde called on governments to aggressively pursue programs to spur economic growth to help the millions of people who remain unemployed.
"Bold actions are need to generate stronger growth," Lagarde told reporters as finance officials began three days of talks in Washington at the spring meetings of the 188-nation IMF and its sister-lending agency, the World Bank.
The discussions on how to boost growth and fight poverty were likely to be overshadowed by rising tensions over Russia's actions in Ukraine. Finance officials from the world's seven major economies were to meet Thursday to discuss whether to increase sanctions against Moscow.
The G-7 countries are the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada. Finance ministers and central bank officials from those nations are in Washington for the IMF meetings and also discussions among the Group of 20 nations, a broader group that includes the G-7 nations and a broader group of emerging countries including Russia, China, Brazil and India.
In advance of the G-7 discussions, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was scheduled to meet one-on-one Thursday with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.
The United States and European nations have imposed various economic sanctions on Russia including travel bans and asset freezes in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea, with the possibility of tougher sanctions on the table.
To provide support for Ukraine's cash-strapped government, the IMF is working up a loan package to provide between $14 billion to $18 billion in assistance.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to demand advance payment from Ukraine for natural gas that Russia supplies to the country.
Asked Thursday about the IMF support, Lagarde said the IMF hoped to have the program approved by its 24-member board by the end of this month or early May.