September 8, 2017 / 12:50 PM / 9 months ago

Venezuela's Maduro says bondholders invited to talks

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuela would keep paying its foreign debt, despite an economic crisis and U.S. financial sanctions, but was also hoping to talk to bondholders soon.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) gestures as he speaks during a session of the National Constituent Assembly at Palacio Federal Legislativo in Caracas, Venezuela September 7, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

“Next week, all the holders of bonds with capital and interest due are invited,” he said in a speech late on Thursday to the new Constituent Assembly.

“This week, we have already had some bilateral conversations (with creditors),” he added after emphasizing that Venezuela would honor all its debt commitments.

Maduro did not give more details of what his government wanted to discuss with bondholders or where talks would be held.

The government and state oil company PDVSA have to pay more than $4 billion in debt and interest during the rest of 2017.

The OPEC nation is in the fourth year of recession, with its population grappling with triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and medicine.

Calling Maduro a “dictator”, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month that prohibits Americans from dealing in new debt issued by the Venezuelan government or PDVSA.

That could complicate any possible debt refinancing attempt.

In the same address, Maduro said cash-strapped Venezuela would seek to “free” itself of the U.S. dollar and “implement a new system of international payments” using currencies such as the yuan, yen, rupee, euro and ruble.

The Venezuelan president did not, however, specify whether paying in a different currency was an option his government wanted to discuss with bondholders.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago, Corina Pons and Girish Gupta; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by W Simon

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