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Laos taps Xi classmate as presidential aide, deepening China tilt

Ex-commerce chief Khemmani offers personal link to Vientiane's top creditor

Khemmani Pholsena, left, reportedly attended the same elementary school as Xi Jinping in Beijing.

BANGKOK -- Laos has appointed a former schoolmate of Chinese President Xi Jinping to serve as a top aide to the Southeast Asian nation's new leader.

Khemmani Pholsena, 64, was named the minister in charge of the presidential office. She will advise President Thongloun Sisoulith, who doubles as general secretary of the communist ruling party.

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