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Mugabe Spokesman: Reports on Political Deal 'Nonsense'

A spokesman for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has denied reports that the ruling ZANU-PF party is close to a power-sharing deal with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Spokesman George Charamba told reporters in Harare Thursday that reports with details of a supposed agreement are "utter nonsense."

Charamba added that the talks in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, are going well, and that the people of Zimbabwe will be informed in due course.

A South African newspaper, The Star, reported on Tuesday that the sides were close to a deal in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would be executive prime minister, with Mr. Mugabe remaining president in a ceremonial role.

Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai were expected to meet in Harare today, but officials on both sides say the meeting has been postponed.

Earlier today, a South African government spokesman says the Zimbabwe talks are progressing "extremely well" but refused to give further details.

On Wednesday, the rival parties issued a joint statement calling on supporters to stop politically-motivated violence.

Tsvangirai defeated Mr. Mugabe in first-round presidential voting in March but pulled out of the June run-off election, citing state-sponsored attacks against his supporters.

The MDC accused Mugabe backers of killing dozens of MDC activists and injuring thousands more in the weeks leading up to the run-off. Most Western countries and some African leaders dismissed the election won by Mr. Mugabe as a sham.

The two parties are under pressure to reach an agreement so Zimbabwe can start to recover from its long economic crisis.

The country suffers from 80 percent unemployment and an inflation rate officially pegged at 2.2 million percent. Critics blame government policies, while Mr. Mugabe blames a Western conspiracy led by former colonial power Britain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.