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Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai took his oath of office as Zimbabwe's first prime minister Wednes-day, ending the long feud with hard-line President Robert Mugabe . Tsvangirai said his first priority is "to stabilize the economy." But analysts cast doubt on his prospects for success, suggesting that Tsvangirai would be given little room to maneuver and noting that both men had stacked their power-sharing government with political allies rather than able technocrats.

US and South Korean officials sought to play down reports that a test launch of a long-range North Korean missile is imminent. A South Korean analyst said two months of preparation for such a launch would be necessary. US Defense Secretary Gates noted that the last such test had been a failure and that, "should we deem it necessary," American forces could shoot down a North Korean missile after launch.

Residents of some burned-out towns in Australia's Victoria State made their first trips back to where their homes had stood, but police kept others from doing so on grounds that the scenes were too disturbing. In all, authorities said, last weekend's fires destroyed almost 1,000 houses and blackened 902,000 acres of land. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd vowed his government would rebuild the affected communities "brick by brick." Some new fires were reported Tuesday night, with authorities saying there was little doubt that they'd been "deliberately lit."

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