July 16, 2013 / 11:47 AM / 6 years ago

Gold sale not only option for Cyprus: finance minister

Newly-appointed Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades speaks during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus April 3, 2013. REUTERS/Andreas Manolis

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus said on Tuesday a sale of its gold reserves was not the only option under consideration to pay down its debt and that other alternatives were being considered.

“The possibility of selling gold is known, but only as an option,” Finance Minister Harris Georgiades told reporters. He did not elaborate on what the alternatives were.

International lenders have flung a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) financial lifeline to the Mediterreanean island, which was forced to seize bank deposits in two major lenders to finance its side of the deal in March.

It also promised lenders from the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission to consider the option of selling its gold reserves, valued at the time at around 400 million euros.

News that Cyprus could be forced to offload gold triggered a steep fall in the price of the metal in April as traders worried about the precedent it could set.

“It will be considered, when the time comes, with options, or rather, all other options,” Georgiades told reporters.

Asked if this meant there was a possibility of Cyprus not selling its gold, he answered: “When that time comes other options will be examined.”

The president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said last week he hoped there would never be a need for the island to sell its gold reserves and the issue was not being discussed by the government as it was a responsibility of the central bank.

($1 = 0.7664 euros)

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Jason Neely and Anthony Barker

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