Last updateTue, 22 Nov 2016 12pm

Prayuth to restart talks with rebels from south

BANGKOK — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to conduct peace talks with rebel groups in the south of the country when he makes an official visit to meet Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak next month.

Thailand wants its southern neighbour to be a facilitator in the peace talks with insurgent groups. The meeting between General Prayuth and Mr Najib will mark a major step in the Thai government's attempts to hold peace talks with rebels.

Gen Prayuth plans to conduct talks with every insurgent group and wants them to be held in secret to prevent any group from setting conditions, the Bangkok Post yesterday reported General Akanit Muansawat, an adviser to the Thai National Security Council (NSC), as saying.

"There will be a new team to be appointed by Gen Prayuth. There will be seven of them, down from 15. A small team is more flexible," Gen Akanit was quoted as saying.

The announcement comes as NSC chief Thawil Pliensri was scheduled to hold talks with his counterparts from the Malaysian National Security Council in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and today to make arrangements for reviving the dialogue process with insurgents.

Mr Thawil said Gen Prayuth wanted him to assure Mr Najib that Thailand wants Malaysia to facilitate peace talks, the Bangkok Post reported.

The talks and composition of Thailand's delegation will be formally scheduled after Mr Thawil's visit to Malaysia.

Last week, the Thai military junta said the peace negotiating team would comprise civilians as well as members of the military.

"We will have soldiers, lawyers and academics on the team," said General Udomdej Sitabutr, secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order, the formal name of the junta.

He added that talks with Muslim separatists, brokered by Malaysia, would definitely move forward.


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