By Mayela Armas
CARACAS, Jan 11 (Reuters) - A group of investors in Venezuelan bonds said on Friday it would not negotiate with leftist President Nicolas Maduro over unpaid debt due to U.S. sanctions and after several countries said they did not recognize him as a legitimate leader.
In a statement, the group of funds known as the Venezuela Creditors Committee said they would recognize the opposition-run National Assembly as the OPEC nation's "only legitimately elected body" after Maduro was sworn in for a second six-year term on Thursday following a May 2018 vote derided as a sham.
"The Committee wishes to keep communications channels open with all non-sanctioned stakeholders in order to be in a position to move quickly to support a comprehensive debt restructuring and economic reform program," said the Committee, which is represented by financial advisor Guggenheim Securities and law firm Cleary Gottlieb.
Venezuela's government and state-owned companies owe nearly $8 billion in unpaid interest and principal following last year's default on bonds amid a hyperinflationary collapse of the country's once-wealthy Socialist economy.
Maduro in 2017 invited creditors to a brief meeting in Caracas to discuss a potential renegotiation of the country's debt after failing to make interest payments, but no agreement was reached.
Sanctions placed on Venezuela by the United States, which accuses the South American country's government of corruption and human rights violations, will likely complicate any attempt to restructure the debt.
Last month, a separate group of creditors demanded payment on a $1.5 billion bond that is in default, kicking off a long-awaited showdown. (Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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