( dpa ) - Thailand's outgoing Prime Minster Surayud Chulanont Monday praised Suharto, who died over the weekend, for his contributions to the establishment and expansion of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"Thailand deeply appreciates the enormous contributions His Excellency General Suharto rendered to the causes of peace and security in the region, to our efforts to strengthen regional cooperation as well as the expansion of the relationship between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of Indonesia," said Surayud.
Surayud, a former army general who was appointed premier in the aftermath of Thailand's military coup of September 19, 2006, noted that the establishment of ASEAN in 1967 and its transformation into "a full-fledged, mature regional organization," would not have been possible without Suharto's blessing, commitment and leadership.
Surayud appointed Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram as his "special envoy" to attend Suharto's funeral.
Thailand's new parliament was gathering Monday to select a new prime minister, slated to be Samak Sundaravej, the leader of the People Power Party that won more than 230 out of 480 contested seats in the December 23 general election.
Samak will replace Surayud as soon as his selection has been approved by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is head of state.