Oil price steady amid U.S./Iraq deadlock

Oil prices fell away last week after reduced stocks estimates and cold weather briefly raised their value, but continued strained relations between Washington and Baghdad kept them from returning to free-fall. In the most recent diplomatic development, United Nations Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan rejected criticism of his handling of the Iraq crisis, after the U.S. government accused him of not being tough enough on Baghdad. Annan said his task was made more difficult by sharp divides within the U.N. Security Council: the 15-member council is preparing proposals that take a stance somewhere between the hard-line approach of the U.S. and the more sympathetic position of France, Russia...

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