Despite persistent southern attacks, March 28 dialogue is on

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BANGKOK, March 19 – Violence in Thailand’s far South could be less severe if the Thai authorities gain trust among Muslim insurgent groups in future dialogues with them, the secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC) said today.

Paradorn Pattanatabut was apparently referring to frequent attacks on Thai officials and civilians in the three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat despite a deal between the NSC and part of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) insurgent group in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 28 during which both parties agreed to the talks.

The first round of dialogue is scheduled in the Malaysian capital on March 28. Fifteen Thai officials will join the talks while the BRN group will have an equal number of representatives.

Lt Gen Paradorn said the names of 15 Thai officials will not be disclosed until Malaysian officials and the BRN group have been notified.

After the dialogue and the BRN representatives are comfortable to a certain level, Gen Paradorn said, they may send out signals to other insurgent groups.