President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority backed off his threat to boycott further negotiations with Israel until the latter and Hamas arrive at a truce in the Gaza Strip. Abbas said Wednesday, "The peace process is a strategic choice, and we have the intention of resuming [it]." His suspension of talks earlier this week over the latest violence in Gaza complicated the mission of visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Deployment of thousands of troops along the border with Colombia is almost complete, Venezuelan generals said Wednesday as their government ratcheted up pressure over the military strike that killed a leftist rebel leader and 23 followers. Pressure also was being applied by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who demanded a crisis meeting of the Organization of American States and a condemnation of the Colombian attack. Above, a Venezuelan soldier holds up traffic at one border crossing.

"Powerful measures" will be necessary to control inflation in China, Premier Wen Jibao told the National People's Congress, indicating that his government would employ price controls and limits on credit. Despite predictions of 10.5 percent economic expansion, Wen said the government would hold to the 8 percent target in its original plans. As of January, the inflation rate – 7.1 percent – was the highest in 11 years.

The Rev. Ian Paisley ended months of speculation that he was about to retire as first minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the dominant Democratic Unionist Party. The Protestant political icon (l.) said Tuesday night, "It's time to go." But he denied he was being forced out by unhappy DUP members. He said he'll step down from both posts on or shortly after May 9, less than halfway through his four-year term in the power-sharing administration.

A deep split opened in the ranks of Serbia's parliament Wednesday as ultranationalists drafted a resolution demanding that the European Union state "unequivocally" that Kosovo cannot be a separate state. Otherwise, the resolution says, Serbia should abandon its quest for membership in the EU. The measure appeared likely to pass since the ultranationalists hold a majority of seats. But pro-Western opponents called for a new national election as a way out of the confrontation, a move that analysts warned could collapse the coalition government.

Leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan blamed each other for the worst fighting in years over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. As many as 16 soldiers were killed in gunbattles that began Tuesday and lasted into Wednesday morning. Azerbaijan said Armenia started the trouble to divert attention from its postelection violence. Armenia suggested the Azeris had thought "the authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh" would be distracted by the political crisis, providing an opening for attack.

A "historic" forum to promote dialogue between Muslims and Christians was scheduled for Nov. 4-6 in Rome, with Pope Benedict XVI participating, the Vatican said Wednesday.Leaders from both sides will discuss such themes as "Love of God/Love of Neighbor," it said. The pope angered much of the Islamic world in a 2006 lecture in which he referred to characterizations of the prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman." He later said those weren't his own views but did not offer the apology demanded by Muslims.

Police ended a three-hour hostage drama at one of China's top attractions Wednesday by shooting to death the hijacker of a bus carrying Australian tourists. The visitors were in the city of Xian to see its world-famous terra cotta army. Attacks on foreigners are rare in China, which has been stressing safety as it prepares for an influx of visitors to the Olympic Games this summer.

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