LAOS: The Price of Peace

In his palace in steamy Vientiane one day last week, handsome King Savang Vatthana of Laos stared thoughtfully at a freshly opened cable from U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold. "I permit myself," wired Hammarskjold, "to express the hope that the line of independent neutrality . . . will be firmly maintained." Twenty-four hours later, with full approval of the U.S. State Department, King Savang Vatthana quietly overthrew the "pro-Western" army group that fortnight ago tumbled the government of ex-Premier Phoui Sananikone (TIME, Jan. n).

Behind this odd situation lay a coldeyed appraisal of power realities in Laos. In the crisis-ridden months...

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