NICOSIA - Cyprus became on Monday the fifth euro zone country to seek financial assistance from the EU's rescue funds, announcing it was applying for a bailout for its banking sector hit by exposure to the crisis in Greece.

Tiny Cyprus needs to raise at least 1.8 billion euros - equivalent to about 10 percent of its domestic output - by June 30 to satisfy European regulators about the health of Cyprus Popular Bank, which saw its balance sheet hurt by bad Greek debt. It may seek more.

"The purpose of the required assistance is to contain the risks to the Cypriot economy, notably those arising from the negative spill over effects through its financial sector, due to its large exposure in the Greek economy," a government announcement said.

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