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Cyprus Pushes for Deal to Avoid Banking Collapse

The Cyprus government raced Saturday against a Monday deadline to complete legislation aimed at avoiding a banking collapse.

Finance Minister Michalis Sarris -- speaking Saturday in Nicosia -- reported significant progress toward reaching a deal, and said new legislation for raising funds needed to qualify for an international bailout could be completed as early as Sunday.

Lawmakers were reported on the verge of approving a one-time levy on deposits of more than $130,000. President Nicos Anastasiades was set to meet with political party leaders late Saturday to brief them on negotiations.

The tiny Mediterranean island-nation has been told by the European Central bank that it must raise $7.5 billion in order to qualify for a $13 billion bailout loan from other eurozone countries.

Earlier this week, the country's lawmakers soundly rejected an unpopular plan that would have levied a 10 percent tax on all bank accounts.

That rejection came as depositors lined up outside Cyprus banks to withdraw savings and analysts warned that panic by small depositors could spread to other European countries with faltering economies.

If a deal is not reached, Cyprus' banks could collapse by next week, pushing the country toward bankruptcy and a potential exit from the 17-member eurozone.

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