President Bush announced Wednesday that Kansas University's diplomat-in-residence in political science will be nominated as ambassador to Thailand.
David Lambertson, a career diplomat, said today he has never been assigned to Thailand, but has worked extensively in southeast and northeast Asia.
"I'm delighted with the nomination," he said. "I feel very privileged and lucky. This is an important country for the United States, and it will be a big job."
Lambertson, 50, was born in Sabetha. He is nearly finished with a one-year sabbatical he took from the State Department to come to KU.
As the diplomat-in-residence at KU, he teaches a course in international relations.
He was deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department before accepting the KU position.
Since joining the foreign service in 1963, he has been posted in Korea, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia. He speaks French, Indonesian and Vietnamese.
LAMBERTSON SAID Thailand is important to the United States, because the southeast Asian country has been a U.S. ally for many years and remains an important trading partner.
"We have very strong relations with Thailand, and I hope to do my part to keep them strong," he said.
He said the Thai government has had a problem dealing with an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Thailand had an estimated population of 54.9 million in 1990.
The ambassadorial appointment to Thailand is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Lambertson expects to testify before a Senate confirmation committee in the spring or summer.
Lambertson said he has known for some time that Bush might nominate him for the post.
STATE DEPARTMENT colleagues kept him updated on his prospects, he said.
Asked why the president selected him, Lambertson said, "There are probably quite a few people qualified to do this job, including me, I think."
Lambertson's wife, Sacie, has been active in the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization devoted to providing housing for low-income families.
Lambertson received a bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands (Calif.) in 1962 and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London from 1981-1982.