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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.

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