Cyprus urges bailout deal within month

Cyprus wants to reach a bailout deal with international lenders by the end of March to prevent further damage to its image, new foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Wednesday.

"The crisis and uncertainty have gone on for too long," Kasoulides said during while on a visit to Greek counterpart Dimitris Avramopoulos.

"The time has come to rebuild our reputation," Kasoulides said, noting that the new conservative government that came to power last month would show "wisdom" with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Kasoulides spoke as a team from the so-called troika of international lenders was in crisis-hit Cyprus to gather data needed to finalise the bailout package.

The anticipated 17-billion-euro ($22.3 billion) rescue package for Cyprus is roughly equivalent to a year's output of the Cypriot economy.

Eurozone finance ministers said Monday that a long-delayed bailout deal could be struck by the end of March after Nicosia agreed to submit its banks to independent scrutiny amid worries over money-laundering

Kasoulides on Wednesday said reports that Cyprus tolerated money-laundering had "destroyed" the country's image.

As well as money-laundering fears, doubts over debt sustainability in the medium term and privatisations have proved sticking-points.

But following the February 24 presidential election victory of right-winger Nicos Anastasiades, signals from the new government on privatisation appear less hostile than under the previous administration.