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Cyprus Bank Workers to Strike over Pension Fears

Cyprus bank workers are to go on strike Thursday over fears pensions may be at risk under the country's crippling bailout, after the new finance minister vowed to do "whatever it takes" to right the economy.

Bank employees' union ETYK called a two-hour stoppage over concerns that pension funds at Laiki and Bank of Cyprus are not being protected under the island's 10-billion-euro ($12.8 billion) bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank.

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Obama to Hand back Five Percent of Own Salary

President Barack Obama plans to return five percent of his $400,000 annual salary to U.S. government coffers out of sympathy for federal workers furloughed as a result of massive budget cuts.

"The salary for the President, as with members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed," a White House official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

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Spanish PM Says Economy Will Return to Growth in 2014

Spain's recession-hit economy will return to growth and begin creating jobs again in 2014 if the government keeps up its tough austerity reforms, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Wednesday.

"In 2014, if we are able to maintain the same level of effort, the Spanish economy will grow markedly and begin to create jobs," he said during a meeting of top officials from his center-right Popular Party.

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Alwaleed bin Talal Calls on Saudi to Introduce Polls

Saudi billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal has called for parliamentary elections in the absolute monarchy where the king names members of a toothless Shura consultative council.

Prince Alwaleed, the richest Arab businessman and a nephew of King Abdullah, said in a television interview aired late Tuesday the monarch's January decision to appoint 30 women to the council was "very important" but needed to go further.

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Cyprus Will Implement Bailout Terms 'Fully', Says Finance Minister

Cash-strapped Cyprus will fully implement the terms of a 10-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout, new Finance Minister Haris Georgiades said on Wednesday.

"First of all we shall implement the MoU (memorandum of understanding) fully without any derogation; we shall meet all timeframes and meet all targets," he said as he took up his new post.

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IMF Mission in Cairo for Talks on Boosting Battered Economy

A delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for talks on a financing program needed to lift Egypt's economy out of crisis.

The delegation is expected to examine Egypt's efforts at economic reform.

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Lagarde: IMF to Provide 1 bn Euros to Cyprus Rescue

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to provide approximately one billion euros to the 10-billion-euro rescue plan for cash-strapped Cyprus, managing director Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday.

This would be through a three-year 891 million Special Drawing Rights (about one billion euro) loan," Lagarde said in a statement, adding that she expects the deal to go to the IMF executive board for approval in early May.

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World Bank Seeks End to Extreme Poverty by 2030

World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim on Tuesday called for a global drive to wipe out extreme poverty by 2030, acknowledging that reaching the goal will require extraordinary efforts.

"A world free of poverty is within our grasp. It is time to help everyone across the globe secure a one-way ticket out of poverty and stay on the path toward prosperity," Kim said in a speech in Washington.

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Economist Warns of 'Radical' Climate Change, Millions at Risk

The author of an influential 2006 study on climate change warned Tuesday that the world could be headed toward warming even more catastrophic than expected but he voiced hope for political action.

Nicholas Stern, the British former chief economist for the World Bank, said that both emissions of greenhouse gas and the effects of climate change were taking place faster than he forecast seven years ago.

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Cuba Gears Up for First Free Trade Industry Zone

Cuba on Tuesday unveiled rules for its first free trade manufacturing zone, a vast $900 million project being paid for mostly by Brazil in the port of Mariel near Havana.

The Mariel Special Development Zone, a major trial balloon being floated by President Raul Castro's communist government, is slated to feature manufacturing operations both for export and for the Cuban market, as well as a megaport that would take over shipping now done in Havana.

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