Eurogroup finance chiefs to meet Sunday in pursuit of Cyprus deal

Brussels, Mar 22 (EFE).- The finance ministers of the euro zone nations will meet here over the weekend in hopes of sealing an accord to rescue Cyprus' financial system and avert an economic collapse in the Mediterranean nation, diplomats told Efe.

The special Eurogroup meeting is set for 1600 GMT Sunday and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis is likely to be present in Brussels, the diplomats said.

A summit of Eurogroup heads of state and government may be convened for early next week, other sources told Efe.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and the European Union's top official, Herman van Rompuy, announced earlier Friday that they were postponing an EU-Japan conference scheduled for Monday so they could remain in Brussels and monitor the Cyprus situation.

Anastasiadis, the Eurogroup and the Troika - the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank - reached accord last weekend on a plan to rescue Cyprus's troubled banks.

The program included a one-time levy on bank deposits in the island nation, but Cypriot lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected that idea.

Since the rejection, the Eurogroup has accepted the idea that accounts smaller than 100,000 euros ($129,000) should be exempt from the levy.

The Eurogroup insists that Cyprus contribute 5.8 billion euros toward the bank rescue of up to 10 billion euros ($13 billion).

Cypriot legislators approved late Friday a "Plan B" package that includes transaction limits to prevent a run on deposits once the island's banks - closed since last weekend - reopen next week.

The bill also includes creation of a National Solidarity Fund that will draw from the reserves of public employee pension and health-insurance funds.

Cyprus' leadership left until Saturday a decision on how big a levy to impose on bank deposits over 100,000 euros.

The ECB said Thursday it would guarantee the liquidity of banks in Cyprus until March 25.

"Thereafter, Emergency Liquidity Assistance could only be considered if an EU/IMF program is in place that would ensure the solvency of the concerned banks," the ECB said.