ECB's Asmussen says hopes for swift Cyprus aid deal

BERLIN Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:12pm EST

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BERLIN Jan 10 (Reuters) - European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Thursday he hoped Cyprus would be able to conclude a full-fledged aid programme with international lenders after euro zone finance ministers have discussed the issue on January 21.

"I believe we have to reach a swift conclusion (on Cyprus). We are still waiting for the results of an evaluation of the Cypriot banking sector, which should come in mid-January. Then the Eurogroup on Jan. 21 can have a first discussion," Asmussen said in a panel discussion.

"...in the weeks following that we will hopefully be able to conclude a fully-fledged programme," Asmussen added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she expected a bailout for Cyprus to take time. Germany, like some other member states, has concerns over what it sees as a lack of transparency in the financial sector in Cyprus, a popular tax haven for wealthy Russians.

The Mediterranean island applied for a financial rescue from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund last June after its banks suffered huge losses on the EU-approved writedown on Greece's debt.

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