(Adds new reserves figure, government confirmation)
CARACAS Feb 26 Venezuela's international
reserves fell to a 17-year low of $13.5 billion on Friday after
the government paid in full its $1.5 billion Global 2016 bond
, according to central bank data.
The $1.543 billion decline in reserves matched the interest
and principal paid on the 2016 bond.
"The government once again manifests it willingness and
capacity to honor its financial commitments in a timely manner,
demonstrating its solvency in international markets," the
finance ministry said in a statement on its website confirming
The previous low for the South American country's
international reserves was in March of 1999.
Investors had assumed President Nicolas Maduro's socialist
government would pay the debt. But many still worry it may not
have the funds to meet heavier payments due for bonds of state
oil company PDVSA later in the year.
Venezuela's total debt burden for 2016 is around $10
billion, of which more than $4 billion - mainly bonds of state
oil company PDVSA - must be paid in October and November.
(Reporting by Corina Pons and Girish Gupta; Writing by Andrew
Cawthorne; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown)