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Venezuela’s Maduro in Algeria for talks on oil

Algiers, Algeria | AFP |  Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited fellow OPEC member Algeria Monday for talks after announcing Caracas would sell crude oil in non-dollar currencies in a bid to resist US sanctions.

Maduro arrived late Sunday in the North African country and met Senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah on Monday to discuss oil policies, the Venezuelan government said.

The Algerian presidency said Maduro and his hosts were to review the situation on world oil markets.

The statements made no mention of whether he would meet his ailing Algerian counterpart President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 80, and an official told AFP Monday the issue was still unclear.

Algeria’s official APS news agency said Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Energy Minister Mustapha Guitouni were also at the meeting.

It took place at Bouteflika’s official residence in Zeralda, where he receives foreign guests, it said.

The Venezuelan presidency said the talks covered a 2016 OPEC deal to cut oil production in a bid to boost low crude prices.

After the meeting, Maduro said there was “a climate favourable to the policy of a fair price for black gold”, it said.

It said oil sector cooperation between Algiers and Caracas was also on the agenda.

Both Algeria and Venezuela are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel, and have been hard hit by low oil prices following a market slump in 2014.

Venezuela has to make $3.8 billion in debt payments in October and November, while its foreign currency reserves have sunk under $10 billion.

It has also been hit by tough new American sanctions that bar American banks from trading in new bonds issued by Venezuela’s government or the state-run oil company PDVSA.

Washington’s goal is to restrict the South American country’s access to vital bond and equity markets.

Maduro said on Friday he planned “to start selling oil, gas and all other products that Venezuela sells with new currencies, including the Chinese yuan, the Japanese yen, the Russian ruble, the Indian rupee among others.

“An economy free from the US imperialist system is possible,” he said during a television broadcast.

The slump in crude oil prices has also forced Algeria’s government to raise taxes and mothball many public projects as the country struggles with high unemployment.

Maduro arrived from Astana where he attended a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

 

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