Cyprus seeks help from Russia to avert crisis

Cyprus sought help from Russia on Wednesday to see it through its financial crisis but failed to agree on a loan deal at a first round of talks.

Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris said after meeting Russia's finance minister, Anton Siluanov, that he would stay on in Moscow for more meetings and that talks were "looking beyond" just an agreement on a loan extension.

Cyprus has asked Russia for a five-year extension of a loan of 2.5 billion euros ($3.22 billion) that matures in 2016, as well as a reduction in the 4.5 percent rate of interest.

Cyprus has also asked Russia to loan it a further 5 billion euros, the Russian finance ministry says, but Moscow has not announced a decision on the request.

"We had a very honest discussion, we've underscored how difficult the situation is," Sarris told reporters. "We'll now continue our discussion to find the solution by which we hope we will be getting some support."

"There were no offers, nothing concrete," he said. But he added: "We're happy with a good beginning."

He later held talks with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, officials said, but they gave no details of the meeting.

Moscow is angry that the European Union did not consult it over a proposed levy on banking deposits held in Cypriot banks as part of a 10-billion-euro bailout of the Mediterranean island. Late on Tuesday, the Cypriot parliament overwhelmingly rejected the proposed levy.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly, Writing by Katya Golubkova, Editing by Timothy Heritage)