Southern peace talks resume in Kuala Lumpur
The peace dialogue between representatives of the Thai government and a separatist group has resumed in Kuala Lumpur after more than a year.
The session, being held at a hotel in the Malaysian capital, is the first to be chaired by Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, a former chief of the Malaysian armed forces recently appointed as the new facilitator by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
Leading the Thai delegation to the talks is Gen Wallop Raksanoh, a former secretary general of the National Security Council, while Anas Abdulrahman heads the delegation from the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
Informed sources said the two sides will try to use the forum to find ways to reduce violence in strife-torn southern Thailand, while exploring long-term solutions to the conflicts that have claimed thousands of lives. They are also expected to discuss how to seek consultation with local communities.
The last session of the dialogue took place in January last year. The new round of talks takes place in the shadow of continuing violence in the three southern Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar said, during his visit to Bangkok two weeks ago, that Kuala Lumpur is committed to helping Thailand resolve the conflicts in the region.