LAOS: Much for Little

The U.S. is not the only nation to find Laos a baffling place.

Only a week after he arrived amid elaborate ceremonies as the first Russian en voy to Laos, Ambassador Aleksandr Abramov sat in shirtsleeves in a seedy hotel room in Vientiane and fumed. King Savang Vatthana had pointedly declined to invite him to present his credentials. Neutralist Premier Prince Souvanna Phouma canceled the important bad ceremony, in which Buddhist priests were to tie a lucky string around Abramov's wrist. And Souvanna announced the "technical arrest" of Paratroop Captain Kong Le, Vientiane's military boss, on the ground that the expansive...

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