Thai army chief asks BRN militants for face-to-face talks

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BANGKOK, Aug 23 – Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha today flatly turned down negotiations with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) militant group on its five-point demands via the video-sharing website YouTube.

He said all proposals must be made at the negotiation table and reasons should be given for each point of the demands.

Gen Prayuth was speaking to reporters after attending a meeting of the government agency dealing with the insurgency, the Centre to Mobilise Policy and Strategy to Solve Problems in the Southern Border Provinces, which included representatives from the government, the Internal Security Operations Command and the team in charge of peace talks with the BRN.

Peace dialogue meetings have been held three times in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia acting as facilitator.

Gen Prayuth said the BRN’s five-point demands made on Youtube were never raised in the peace talks and, if officially proposed, the Thai authorities would have to thoroughly study them.

“It is important that the atmosphere of the peace talks is positive,” he said. “Each party should be clear on the issues for negotiations. Some of their proposals must be approved by the Thai Parliament for we strictly follow the constitution.”

He said the southern people’s faith in and respect for the BRN movement has diminished in light of the continued violence.

Gen Prayuth said today’s meeting agreed that the BRN’s five-point demands should be raised and discussed in the next peace talks, tentatively scheduled for next month. The date has yet to be fixed.