The World: The Commonwealth: Crash Course

THERE was a time when summit meetings of the British Commonwealth meant tea at Buckingham Palace and gracefully informal get-togethers in mahogany-paneled London offices. No longer. Last week, when the 31 regular members of that unique order gathered for their 18th formal conference, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the host, had to plead with his colleagues to be polite to each other, "if only coldly so."

It was the Commonwealth's first regular meeting outside London (a special meeting was held in Lagos in 1966), and even in Singapore's muggy 85° weather, the...

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