The International Monetary Fund has confirmed that Cyprus has asked for financial aid amid the euro zone sovereign debt crisis.

"Today, the IMF received an invitation from the Cypriot authorities to participate in the external financial assistance to contain the risks to the Cypriot economy," IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in a statement.

Ms Lagarde noted that the request followed the Cypriot authorities' request for financial support from the EU emergency funds, the European Financial Stability Facility and the European Stability Mechanism.

"We stand ready to join the efforts of our European partners to help Cyprus return to stable and sustainable economic growth and restore a solid financial sector," she said.

"We expect to send an IMF team to Cyprus to evaluate the situation in the field as soon as possible in preparation for discussions on an economic program that will help Cyprus meet the economic challenges it is facing."

Eurogroup to coordinate with IMF

After a conference call today, euro zone finance ministers have said that they are favourable to a request for financial help from Cyprus in coordination with the International Monetary Fund.

"The Eurogroup acknowledges that an adjustment programme seems warranted at this stage and considers responding favorably to it," the ministers said in a statement, adding: "The Eurogroup also welcomes the request of Cyprus for financial assistance from the IMF."

The conference call followed a formal request for aid from Cyprus on Monday and comes on the eve of an EU summit crucial to stemming contagion in Europe's sovereign debt crisis, now in its third year.

Finance ministers from the 17-nation euro zone said in the statement that the next step was for the European Commission, the European Central Bank, Cypriot authorities and the International Monetary Fund "to agree on a programme."

This would set the amount needed by Cyprus as well as spell out the reforms it would need to carry out in return to put its financial house in order.