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article imageVenezuela sets meeting with creditors for November 13: official

By AFP     Nov 3, 2017 in Business

Venezuela has called its foreign creditors to a meeting November 13 in Caracas in an effort to restructure its estimated at $150 billion debt, Vice President Tareck el Aissami said Friday.

Aissami said the government is seeking "sovereign commitments" for a debt renegotiation.

He is leading a commission in charge of restructuring the debt in crisis-hit Venezuela, which is seen by many investors as being on the verge of default.

Flanked by the ministers in charge of the economy, finance and energy, El Aissami confirmed the country had made a payment of nearly $1.2 billion to service the debt of state oil company PDVSA.

President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday that Venezuela would make that payment and then immediately begin talks to refinance the debt.

El Aissami, one of the Venezuelan officials sanctioned by the United States due to alleged ties to drug trafficking, said the talks with creditors will "establish the groundwork to renegotiate the terms of the foreign debt of the Republic and of PDVSA."

"We will begin a sovereign renegotiations of our debt and we will continue to comply fully, transparently, as our government has done historically," he said in a televised statement.

He noted that since 2014 Venezuela, which has the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, has paid nearly $72 billion in principal and interest payments on the debt.

Maduro has repeatedly blamed the United States for the country's woes, saying Washington is trying to strangle Venezuela with sanctions.

US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August ban US trade in any new bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or PDVSA -- a needed step in any restructuring.

El Aissami denounced the "continued aggression, permanent sabotage, blockade and financial persecution" that US President Donald Trump has imposed on the people of Venezuela.

But he said the sanctions really hurt bondholders and financial institutions.

Much of Venezuela's debt is held by China and Russia, to be paid off in oil -- the resource that underpins the Venezuelan economy. The country has less than $10 billion in foreign currency reserves.

Credit-rating agencies are increasingly warning of the risk of a Venezuelan debt default.

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