Venezuela will remove its international gold reserves from the United States and Europe and place them in countries with "solid" economies like China, Russia and Brazil, President Hugo Chavez said.

"It's a healthy move for the country to bring that gold ... actually I think we've waited a long time; the economies of Europe and the United States are sinking and now it's evident how solid the Chinese, the Russian and other countries' (economies) are ... Brazil," the socialist president, who has long been at loggerheads with the United States, said Wednesday.

Chavez participated by phone in a press conference given by Finance Minister Jorge Giordani and Venezuelan Central Bank chief Nelson Merentes to explain the reasons for moving the Venezuelan gold reserves held abroad.

"I agree Nelson. We're going to bring that gold to our Central Bank," Chavez said.

Venezuela holds a total of $11 billion in gold reserves abroad and most was sent in the 1980s, Chavez said, adding that "some was placed" in a bank in Britain during his time in office, which dates back to 1999.

The gold held abroad will be brought to Venezuela "gradually" because it involves repatriating physical bars of the mineral "that are the same that were taken away back then" and it is necessary to "verify that they're the same," Merentes said.

Venezuela holds a total of more than $18.34 billion in gold and that amount will rise to $20 billion because the metal will continue to be extracted from the southeastern Guayana region and deposited in the national vaults, the president said.

Chavez announced earlier that he will nationalize Venezuela's gold deposits by decree and use the mineral to bolster the country's international reserves.