February 26, 2016 / 9:21 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Venezuela reserves hit 17-year low after debt payment

(Adds new reserves figure, government confirmation)

CARACAS, Feb 26 (Reuters) - 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 payment.

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

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