Their diplomatic rift smoothed over, Venezuela and Colombia were expected to reopen their embassies in each other's capital as soon as possible. But analysts suggested that the reconciliation was superficial and that friction easily could return as Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez tries to broker a swap of hostages held by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for rebels in Colombian prisons. Moreover, although leftist Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa also shook hands with Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, he said it would be "difficult to recover trust" in the latter's pro-US government.

President Boris Tadic of Serbia was expected to announce May 11 as the date for voters to elect a new parliament as a way out of the government's collapse. Last weekend, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said his cabinet no longer could function because of the division between his ultranationalist forces and Tadic's pro-Western liberals over independence for Kosovo and the pursuit of membership in the European Union.

Tens of thousands of people were reported streaming from their homes in western Kenya Monday as the Army moved in to quell a violent uprising over land rights. The Red Cross said scores of villages were under attack and some, where members of the Sabaot Land Defense Force are believed to be hiding, were being bombed. But a local official disputed claims that villagers were the targets of the offensive.

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri of Lebanon announced Monday yet another postponement of the vote to elect the nation's president. He rescheduled it for March 25, four days before the opening of an Arab League conference in Syria. Analysts said Berri hopes to reenergize bloc members in their efforts to end the deadlock between Lebanon's pro- and anti-Syrian political forces over sharing power. The postponement was the 16th. Lebanon has been without a president since pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud's term expired last Nov. 23.

Socialists appeared on course to keep or regain control of the four largest cities in France after Sunday's local elections. With ballot-counting near completion, the leftists retained the mayorship of Lyon and were likely to win in Paris. Next Sunday's second round of voting could give them Marseilles and Toulouse as well. Critics said the results so far reflected voter impatience with conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy's "ostentatious" style of leadership and his failure so far to push through promised tax rollbacks or to reform rigid labor laws.

Coast Guard rescue crews headed for an oil tanker adrift in the English Channel Monday after winter's worst storm battered Britain with heavy rains, snow, and winds of up to 82 m.p.h. More than 11,000 households in Wales and England were without electricity, uprooted trees stalled commuter traffic, and air, rail, and ferry service all were experiencing delays or cancellations. Coastal areas were warned to brace for severe flooding at high tide around midday. Above, waves pound the sea wall at Porthcall, Wales.

Starting with "a leap of faith," volunteers from a Baptist church in Hillsborough, New Brunswick, have built a new wheelchair-accessible house in five months for a couple with severe physical disabilities, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. It said the volunteers raised $12,000 for the project and other churches and businesses donated needed materials. The couple had been living in a leaky, rundown trailer.

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