Finance leaders of the G-20 economieson Friday edged away from a long-running drive toward government austerity in rich nations, rejecting the idea of setting hard targets for reducing national debt in a sign of worries over a sluggish global recovery.
The G-20 club of advanced and emerging economies also said it would be watching for negative effects from massive monetary stimulus, such as Japan's - a nod to concerns of developing nations that those policies risk flooding their economies with hot capital and driving up their currencies.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at a news conference that officials from the Group of 20 nations believed overall debt reduction was more important than specific figures.
"We agreed that these would be soft parameters, these would be some kind of strategic objectives and goals which might be amended or adjusted, depending on the specific situations in the national economies," he said.
Russia - this year's G-20 chair - had hoped to secure an agreement on setting fixed targets for reducing debt by the time G-20 leaders meet in St. Petersburg in September.
But the United States and Japan have firmly opposed the idea of committing to fixed debt-to-GDP targets, with Washington trying to keep the focus of the G-20 on growth.
"Quite frankly, the language could have been stronger but it's sufficient to move this forward," said Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.