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U.K. sends plane-load of cash to Cyprus for its troops

A no-entry sign is seen outside a branch of Bank of Cyprus U.K., in central London March 18, 2013. About 3,500 British military personnel are based in Cyprus.

ANDREW WINNING/REUTERS

Britain sent a military plane carrying €1-million ($1.3-million U.S.) in cash to Cyprus on Tuesday for its troops on the island in case cash machines and bank cards stop working, the defence ministry said.

About 3,500 British military personnel are based in Cyprus, which has been granted a €10-billion euro bailout. But a tax on its banks' depositors as part of the deal sparked outrage and rattled financial markets.

Tuesday, Cyprus's parliament overwhelmingly rejected the proposed levy.

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"An RAF (Royal Air Force) flight left for Cyprus this afternoon with €1-million on board as a contingency measure to provide military personnel and their families with emergency loans in the event that cash machines and debit cards stop working completely," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

"We will keep this under review and consider further shipments if required."

British troops in Cyprus will be given the choice of having their monthly wages paid into British bank accounts rather than Cypriot ones in future, the statement added.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund are demanding Cyprus raise €5.8-billion from depositors to secure its bailout, needed to rescue its financial sector.

Cyprus's government is working on a new proposal that could spare smaller savers from the levy after the original plan drew an angry response.

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