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US ready to accept China-led infrastructure bank: Lew

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on Tuesday that Washington was "ready to welcome" the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, backing off from tougher early resistance to the new development institution.

WASHINGTON: US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on Tuesday (Mar 31) that Washington was "ready to welcome" the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, backing off from tougher early resistance to the new development institution.

Lew said in a San Francisco speech just after a trip to Beijing that the United States would embrace any new international development bank providing it "complements" existing institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

He also stressed that new institutions needed to "share the international community's strong commitment to genuine multilateral governance and decision making, and ever-improving lending standards and safeguards," according to his prepared speech.

China and 20 other countries signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the Beijing-headquartered bank in October.

Washington, worried about a China-dominated AIIB cutting into the work of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank - where the US is the leading voice - at first sought to persuade its allies to hold off from joining the banks.

But in recent weeks most European powers and other leading economies have signed on to the new institution, guaranteeing it a strong capital base and isolating the US position.

Speaking at the northern California chapter of the Asia Society, Lew said he was encouraged that Chinese leaders "made clear that they aspire to meet high standards and welcome partnership."

"Our consistent focus on standards has already had an impact and, as lending begins, the test will be the character of the projects funded and their impact on the people and countries they serve."

If the AIIB works with existing institutions to finance infrastructure projects around Asia, Lew said, it "will help demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of governance, environmental and social safeguards, and debt-sustainability."