Thai government in peace talks with rebels

March 29, 2013 at 12:11 PM   |   Comments

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 29 (UPI) -- Thailand's National Security Council has given opposition leaders one month to show they can control militants in southern provinces.

NSC chief Paradorn Pattanatabut made the announcement Friday after meeting with representatives of the Barisan Revolusi National and Pattani United Liberation Organization in Kuala Lumpur, the Bangkok Post reported.

Opposition forces must order militants in Thailand's southernmost provinces to avoid shooting civilians, Paradorn said.

During the meetings, BRN liaison office chief Hassan Taib requested amnesty for southern insurgents, including the lifting of arrest warrants against suspected insurgents, the release of prisoners convicted in southern violence cases, pending cases against suspected insurgents being dropped, and a rebel suspects blacklist being lifted.

Paradorn said Thursday night that he rejected the release of prisoners but that the BRN's other requests would be discussed with the Justice Ministry and other relevant agencies.

"I'd like to be more optimistic but I'm afraid my sense is that if these talks are going to accomplish anything, it's going to take a long time," said Liow Chin Yong, an international studies professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. "It remains to be seen whether Ustaz Hassan Taib has any clout at all over those fighting on the ground."

The next round of talks between opposition forces and government officials has been scheduled for April 29 in Kuala Lumpur.

Paradorn said the opposition should use the time between now and the next meeting to show they can end violence against civilians.

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