By Nirmal Ghosh, Indochina bureau chief in Bangkok
Laos, sandwiched by China, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, is under the spotlight this year as it chairs ASEAN.
Some analysts say it is a potential coming of age for the relatively isolated country, still run by an opaque old guard communist regime with Cold War memories of being bombed by the United States during the Vietnam War. This year will see world leaders meeting in its riverside capital.
In September, a US president will visit for the first time as Vientiane hosts the Asean summit. The US has donated millions of dollars to clear unexploded ordnance left behind by the Indochina War, and been supporting Laos’ education system.
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