January 13, 2015 / 9:41 AM / 5 years ago

Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan to join Beijing-backed development bank

SHANGHAI, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan will join 24 other nations as founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday.

The entry, which China said was approved unanimously by the other founding members of the China-backed multilateral lender, brings the total number of founder nations intending to join the $50-billion bank to 26, according to statements published on the ministry’s website, www.mof.gov.cn.

AIIB, launched in Shanghai in October but still under development, is seen by the United States as a challenge to the Western-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank, potentially diluting U.S. strategic influence in the region, analysts have said.

Some key Asia-Pacific nations, noticeably Australia and South Korea, have held back from signing up for the bank, which aims to give project loans to developing nations. China is set to be AIIB’s largest shareholder with a stake of up to 50 percent.

Indonesia and a few others, which did not join at its launch, later agreed to be part of it.

Reporting by Lu Jianxin and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath

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