Venezuela’s Maduro in Algeria for talks on oil

ALGIERS (AFP) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was in 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 was due to discuss ways of bolstering bilateral cooperation, a statement from his government said.

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

It did not elaborate or say whether a meeting was planned with ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 80.

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.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, gestures as he walks over the red carpet with Algerian President of the Council of the Nation, Abdelkader Bensalah. – AP

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

Washington’s tough new sanctions on Caracas bar American banks from trading in new bonds issued by Venezuela’s government or the state-run oil company PDVSA.

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

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.

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