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Cyprus church strikes tax deal with government

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Cyprus' finance minister says a longstanding tax dispute with the island's influential Orthodox Christian church has been resolved under a new deal taxing future church property transactions and writing off tens of millions of euros in back taxes.

Kikis Kazamias says the deal, which the Cabinet approved Wednesday, improves on a stalled 2005 accord and obligates the church to pay tax once it buys, sells or exchanges a property from now on. It also scraps the perk of clergy buying tax-free cars.

The church is one of the island's biggest landowners.

Church Treasury Chief Ioannis Charilaou hailed the agreement, saying that the church wants to support the state.