Laos Saddles-up with Thailand

FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — On the banks of the Mekong River in the heart of Laos’s capital city, Vientiane, stands a defiant Chao Anouvong, the Laotian king who fought the Thais almost 200 years ago, winning the hearts of his compatriots and the wretched anger of the royal regiments in Bangkok.

Cast in bronze, his statue was erected just two years ago. With his left hand clutching a sword, his right arm extended and pointing at the enemy across the river, the imposing figure has continued to irritate Thais who see the statue, at best, as contentious.

But the political realities are somewhat different these days. Relations between Thailand and Laos have never been better. Airports, roads, railways and dams are being built and Vientiane is increasingly dictating its own path in foreign relations, regardless of its traditional ties with Vietnam.

Read more in The Diplomat.

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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