VIENTIANE: It is a secretive communist state with a sprawling security apparatus, but Laos has turned to a less menacing demographic to protect visiting dignitaries this week: bookish students. The authoritarian nation, which rarely allows in foreign media, has been thrust into the international spotlight as a regional security summit brings a coterie of top diplomats to its dusty capital Vientiane. As ministers hustle through the wide corridors of the Chinese-built National Convention Center, lines of students, mostly petite women in traditional sinh wrap skirts, link arms to keep the hordes of reporters back. That is in stark contrast to the unseemly scenes that accompanied one of the more robust delegations. North Korean heavies had a bust-up with a journalist from the South who got too close to Pyongyang’s envoy Ri Yong-Ho on the airport tarmac as he landed on Sunday.