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Zimbabwe Inflation Reaches 231 Million Percent

Officials in Zimbabwe report the nation's annual inflation rate rose to a record 231 million percent in July as efforts to create a unity government remain deadlocked.

The state-run Herald newspaper Thursday reports Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office as saying higher food prices are the primary cause of the growth in inflation.

The news comes as Zimbabwe's main political parties failed again Wednesday to break their deadlock over the distribution of Cabinet posts in a unity government.

Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters Thursday that former South African President Thabo Mbeki has been asked to step in to help break the deadlock. Mr. Mbeki mediated previous talks between the two sides.

Tsvangirai says the parties are at an impasse, but that the fundamental contents of the power-sharing agreement remain intact. He said he remains confident a deal can be worked out.

Zimbabwean state media has said the parties agree on all but two ministries: Home Affairs and Finance. But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, says there is no agreement on any of 10 key ministries.

On Wednesday a negotiator for the ruling ZANU-PF party accused the opposition of jeopardizing the talks by trying to negotiate through public statements.

A power-sharing agreement reached last month calls for ZANU-PF to control 15 Cabinet positions, with the two factions of the MDC getting 16. The MDC has accused ZANU-PF of demanding all of the most important ministries.

Zimbabwe has been without an official government for months following disputed presidential elections. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round in March, but pulled out of the June runoff because of alleged state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

The runoff, won by longtime President Robert Mugabe, was dismissed by many nations as a sham.

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