Thailand resuming peace talks with insurgents

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BANGKOK, Sept 12 — Thailand and Malaysia have agreed on resuming peace talks between the Thai authorities and insurgent groups operating in deep southern Thailand where violence has renewed slightly more than a decade ago, said Thawil Pliensri, secretary-general of National Security Council (NSC).

Mr Thawil said he had met his Malaysian counterpart Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday regarding possible Malaysian government-assisted Thai-insurgent peace talks as advised by Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayuth  Chan-ocha, also leader of National Council for Peace  and Order (NCPO).

Mr Thawil said he had informed the Malaysian side that Gen Prayuth and his new government wanted to resolve violence in deep southern Thailand through peaceful means and wanted to see peace talks resumed.

Peace negotiations were held between high-ranking Thai government officials during the previous ousted government and representatives of Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement in Malaysia, aimed at finding solutions to the bloody violence in deep southern provinces, mainly in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

The Malaysian government acted as ‘facilitator, but the talks were suspended later due to political unrest in Thailand while critics said the peace talks were held with the “wrong” representatives of the separatist movement.

To date, more than 5,000 people have died while many others wounded in incidents which resumed in January 2004.

Mr Thawil  told journalists that the Thai government still allowed Malaysia to act as “facilitator” but had not yet appointed a leader of the Thai delegates.

Both sides had agreed that  the NSC offices of the two countries would be the only channel for communication until peace talks started, he said.

Thailand and Malaysia agreed with the idea and would inform their government leaders  while prime ministers of the two countries would meet in the “near future”, said Mr Thawil.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayuth said early Friday before attending a National Legislative Assembly meeting that he planned to visit the three violence-plagued southern provinces but has not yet fixed the date.