Cyprus FinMin: agreement with troika ‘close’ [UPDATE]

Emerging from several hours of talks with troika officials in Nicosia on Saturday, Cypriot Finance Minister Michalis Sarris said the two sides were inching close to a deal regarding a contentious tax on bank deposits.

“We are close to an agreement with the troika,» Sarris said ahead of the anticipated resumption of negotiations at 4 p.m.

The outcome of the second meeting on Saturday was to determine whether or not new legislation imposing the bank levy would go to a vote in the Cypriot Parliament later in the day. On Friday night Cypriot MPs voted for the creation of a solidarity fund, a restructuring of the country’s banks and capital controls.

It remained unclear in the early afternoon whether Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades would travel to Brussels later on Saturday ahead of a scheduled session of the Eurogroup on Sunday. Sources in the Cypriot government suggested that the Eurogroup session might be postponed until Monday to give Nicosia time to approve new legislation.

A European Commission official noted that «intense contacts» were underay regarding a Cyprus settlement but that no meetings had been arranged for the weekend.