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The release of two CBS News employees by their captors in Iraq appeared likely, but it was unclear whether it would come within hours or would take longer. The two, an unidentified British reporter and his interpreter, were seized from a Basra hotel, the TV network said Monday. The Basra office of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr claimed credit for arranging their release.

PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, announced Tuesday that it has stopped selling crude to Exxon Mobil of the US. President Hugo Chávez had warned last weekend that the move might be imminent because of Exxon Mobil's efforts to freeze billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets over the nationalization of its operations by his government. PDVSA called the company's legal maneuvers "unnecessary and hostile." Other foreign oil companies operating in Venezuela have negotiated minority partnership agreements with the Chávez government.

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