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News Briefs

Cheney Seeks to Quiet British Fears on Action Against Iraq


Vice President Dick Cheney moved Monday to quiet British critics of possible military action against Iraq, as he set out on his first overseas trip as vice president, a 12-nation journey to round up support for the next phase in the war against terrorism.

Cheney, in a luncheon with Prime Minister Tony Blair, heard no open discussion of reluctance to expand the war to encompass Iraq. But growing unease within Blair’s Labor Party over taking on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has formed a backdrop to the vice president’s visit here before he moves on to the Middle East and Persian Gulf, where the anxiety is palpable.

With Blair at his side at a news conference at 10 Downing St., the prime minister’s office and residence, Cheney said the United States and Britain would act against Iraq “only in the closest possible consultation-coordination.”

And Blair, who plans to visit President Bush in Texas next month, with Iraq high on the agenda, took pains to emphasize that no decisions had been made. However, he said, “this is a time when we discuss how important it is that the issue of weapons of mass destruction is properly dealt with.”

Zimbabwe Government Closes Polls After Three Days


The government closed the polls Monday in this country’s chaotic presidential elections and a high court judge later rejected the main opposition party’s petition to extend voting to a fourth day.

The election, originally scheduled to be held Saturday and Sunday, had been extended one day by court order after long lines and slow processing at many polling stations prevented thousands of people from casting ballots over the weekend.

Although the order called for the vote to be continued nationwide, the government opened polls only here in the capital and a nearby township and did so “under protest,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told state television. Both areas are considered strongholds of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC.

But when crowds of voters returned to polling stations in the capital early Monday they found many did not open until afternoon and some not at all.

“Polling was supposed to take place throughout the nation and begin at 7 a.m.,” said MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe. “There are thousands of people who would not have had the opportunity to vote.”

Andersen in Merger Talks With Rival Firm Deloitte


Accounting giant Arthur Andersen, its 89-year reputation for steadfast Midwestern stability and sobriety besmirched by its association with Enron Corp., is in merger talks with long-time rival Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said Sunday night.

“There are discussions in New York between Andersen and Deloitte,” the source said. “There are a lot of options possible, including a merger or a sale of a lot of the parts being discussed.”

It is not clear whether the Andersen name would survive such a merger or breakup, but it would appear unlikely, the source said. The price for such a deal has not been determined because Andersen’s potential liability for its Enron-related problems is unclear, the source said.