World Bulletin/News Desk
Cyprus said on Friday it would continue discussions with international lenders in an attempt to reach an agreement on its bailout request, but could not specify when a deal might be concluded.
"We are working with the troika to be able to conclude a memorandum the soonest possible," government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said after government ministers met representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on a visit to the island.
Cyprus sought emergency financial aid from its EU partners on June 25 to buffer a banking sector hammered by exposure to Greece, becoming the fifth euro zone country to need a bailout.
The island's two largest banks booked significant losses on the restructuring of Greek debt earlier this year, impairing regulatory capital and forcing them to seek government aid to recapitalise.
It is unclear how much Cyprus, the euro zone's third smallest economy, will require. The bailout will be comprehensive, and not limited just to the banking sector.
With a GDP of just 17 billion euros, some assessments have placed the bailout amount as high as 10 billion because of the further fallout potential from Greece.
Sources close to the consultations have said there is a divergence on how much Cyprus may need, with the government's assessment being lower than that of the Troika, but without providing any figures.
Cyprus is also discussing a 5 billion euro loan request with Russia, a close political and business ally.
Run by a leftist government which only reluctantly submitted a bailout request after the world's third ratings agency downgraded the island's debt to junk, Cyprus has been at pains to stress to lenders it will not take harsh austerity measures, spooked by the experience of Greece.
"Austerity won't provide the exit from the crisis, there needs to be support for growth and social cohesion," Stefanou said.
"We have underlined the need for balanced and mild measures which will not trigger social upheaval, and will preserve industrial peace," he said.
Authorities have refused to comment on widespread reports that the Troika has suggested salary cuts in an inflated, and highly unionised, public sector workforce and the withholding of Christmas bonuses.
There have also been reports of privatising semi-government corporations like Cyprus telecoms agency Cyta and the electricity authority.
Asked whether there were disagreements, Stefanou said: "When there is a need to continue, it means that there are different approaches on various issues, but on the other, it means there is prospect for convergences on various issues. We will exhaust all effort to reach convergence."
Gazprom and Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz have accused each other of not sticking to agreements on gas supplies.
The new canal, that will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $13 billion.
A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece's financial position.
The agreement is the culmination of talks that began in September after the government decided its own solutions to its fiscal crisis were failing to convince investors.
Energy union highlights bloc's attempt to seek independency from its main gas supplier - Russia.
Merkel's right-left coalition is set to prevail, despite vocal pockets of resistance on the right and left.
Republicans passed the bill to increase pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline, a move the president said would bypass a State Department process that will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.
Turkish PM Davutoglu expresses Turkey's readiness to help in supplying energy to Central Europe.
General Atomics won a $200 million contract in 2013 from the United Arab Emirates for supply of an unspecified number of predator drones, the first such sale in the region
Gazprom said in a statement that Ukraine had 219 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas left that would be used up in two days.
Greece's reform list must be accepted by its EU creditors in order for the indebted country to receive bailout extension.
Recent increases to fuel and toll prices, and taxes, are cited as among the truck drivers' main grievances
Under the terms of the contract, 18 of the Rafale planes will be sold ready to fly while the rest will be assembled at a state-run Indian facility
Vice Admiral John Miller said that a "robust" U.S. and international maritime presence was helping to minimise threats to oil-producing countries in the region.
In the absence of high oil prices, which have slumped since hitting their peak in June, defence equipment would be a useful source of hard currency for the Russian authorities
Veteran leftist Manolis Glezos, a Syriza member of the European Parliament attacked the failure to fulfil Syriza's campaign promises and said simply changing the deal's previously inflammatory wording would not soothe the public.