March 31, 2015 / 6:52 PM / 5 years ago

Iceland wants to be founding member of China-backed AIIB investment bank

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland wants to be a founding member of the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the island nation said on Tuesday, as dozens of countries from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia join despite concerns from the United States.

China has set a March 31 deadline to become a founding member of AIIB, seen as a significant setback to U.S. efforts to extend its influence in the Asia Pacific region and to balance China’s growing financial clout and assertiveness.

The AIIB is seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank and has drawn a cool response from the United States, although many of Washington’s allies, including Australia, South Korea, Britain, France, Germany and Italy, have announced they would join the bank.

Japan is opting to stay out for now, with officials believing it can sign up later if its conditions are met, they said, but both Taiwan and Norway said they want to join.

Reporting by Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir Writing by Sven Nordenstam; Editing by Louise Ireland

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