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Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 17, 1960: Laos a Flashpoint

"The United States Government has served notice that it supports the legitimate Laotian Government of Premier Boun Oum and will do what it can to help that Government to overcome any threat of external aggression," an editorial in the New York Times on this day in 1960 states. "This position is supported by the whole Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, which has put strategic Laos under its protection and denounced Soviet shipments of heavy arms and Communist technicians to the Left-Wing rebel forces as 'outside interference' in Laotian internal affairs.

"There is hope that the issue may be decided by the recapture of the administrative capital of Vientiene by Government forces. The issue has been simplified by the fact that the forces of Captain Kong, who staged a coup d'etat to establish a neutralist Government, since overthrown by the National Assembly and disbanded by the King, have made common cause with the pro-Communist Pathet Lao forces, making the formerly three-cornered civill war a clear struggle between Communists and anti-Communists.

"In keeping with the Indochinese agreements, the United States stands, as Secretary Herter emphasizes, for a 'united and neutral' Laos. But any threat of 'external' aggression, which under the Southeast Asia Treaty could mean either direct or indirect aggression, would call for action in what Secretary Herter calls a 'tragic and dangerous' situation in which 'the fate of Southeast Asia may very well be decided by what happens in Laos.'"

In related news, the Soviet Union and its allies are responsible for the fighting in Laos, the US State Department said today.

West Germany said today it is backing the U.S. position for Allied control of the Atlantic nuclear force.

A US Air Force plane crashed into a crowded Munich, Germany, street car today, killing at least 50.

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