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Iran’s Rouhani offers condolences to Thai PM over king’s death



Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has expressed his condolences over the death of Thailand’s king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ruled the Southeast Asian country for 70 years.

In a Saturday message to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Iranian president offered his condolences to the country’s premier, the Thai nation and government as well as the royal family over the king’s demise.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always regarded the Kingdom of Thailand as an old friend and partner,” Rouhani said.

He also expressed hope that Tehran and Bangkok would take further steps to improve relations in all fields.

King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, died at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital on Thursday at 88 after battling various illnesses for the best part of a decade.

The Thai government has declared a year of mourning and asked people to wear black or white, and to cancel their outdoor festivities for 30 days.

Thousands of grieving Thai people turned out in Bangkok before dawn on Saturday, lighting candles and reciting prayers to pay respect to the late king.

Mourners wait in line to pay their respect to the late Thai king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, outside of the Grand Palace in the capital, Bangkok, on October 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The mourners, dressed in somber black and white, held the candlelit vigil outside the Grand Palace. They later lined up to enter the building to sign a condolence book for King Bhumibol.

Over the past decade, Thailand has suffered political turmoil pitting arch-royalists against those seeking a redistribution of economic and political power.

Although King Bhumibol was a constitutional monarch with limited official powers, the majority of the country’s 68-million-strong population viewed him as a traditional pillar of the country’s unity and stability in rapidly-changing times.

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