What goes on in the rebel-controlled stronghold of north-central Laos? Last week TIME Correspondent James Wilde got a rare chance to see for himself. The Russians have been busily wooing Prince Souvanna Phouma, 59, who was Premier of Laos until he fled to exile in Cambodia last December. Fortnight ago, over dinner and a bottle of vodka at Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Abramov's house in the Cambodian capital of Pnompenh, Prince Souvanna agreed to visit the rebel stronghold. He took along his old friend, Correspondent Wilde, who flew out last week with Souvanna and filed an eye-witness account.

THE trip had all the...

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