Venezuela's Maduro seeks debt negotiations after U.S. sanctions

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has invited bondholders to unspecified “negotiations” over the country’s foreign debt in coming days, in response to recent U.S. financial sanctions.

With Venezuela deep in recession and its currency reserves at their lowest in more than two decades, the Maduro government and state oil company PDVSA have to pay about $4 billion in debt and interest during the rest of 2017. 

“All bondholders are invited to various rounds of negotiations over the next few weeks,” the president said in a speech late on Thursday to the new Constituent Assembly. 

He reiterated Venezuela would keep honoring debt, but said he wanted to talk with bondholders affected by sanctions recently imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Maduro said Vice President Tareck El Aissami, already under U.S. financial sanctions over drug trafficking allegations, and Finance Minister Ramon Lobo would coordinate talks and some “bilateral conversations” with bondholders had already begun. 

In the same speech, Maduro said 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 rubble.