BANGKOK, Thailand In an effort to find peaceful solution to years of armed conflict in southern Thailand, the Thai government offers to talk to any group with different views, said its head of the peace process Gen Udomchai Thammasarorath.

He said achieving peace in the southern provinces of the country will not be too difficult following a briefing by Malaysia’s newly-appointed facilitator to the peace process, Abdul Rahim Noor.

From now on we will talk to every group who have different views to the government. We will give an opportunity for every group, everyone that want to talk to us peacefully, he told the media after meeting the Malaysian facilitator here.

Abdul Rahim, who is also former Malaysian Inspector-General of Police, was in Bangkok to accompany Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the 93 year-old premier’s two-day visit to Thailand, which ended Thursday.

During the bilateral visit, Dr Mahathir and his counterpart Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha also discussed efforts to resolve the conflict which had claimed more than 7,000 lives since 2004.

Malaysia had been facilitating the southern Thai peace process for several years, arranging rounds of meetings between the Thai government and Majlis Syura Patani (Mara Patani), an umbrella body representing several militant groups in southern Thailand.

However, the military wing of Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) was not included in the current peace talks.

Udomchai, who was appointed to the post more than a week ago, said during the talks, he would explain to the insurgents about what Thai government would do to help the people living in the three southern provinces.

The retired general is no stranger to southern Thailand as he once served as the military commander for the region.

He also said that the method to bring peace to southern Thai would not be different from 30 years ago when Abdul Rahim, who was then Malaysia’s top policeman and Dr Mahathir, the country fourth Prime Minister, worked to forge peace with the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).

Malaysia and CPM signed a peace treaty in 1989.

During that time, we were the facilitator, while Malaysia was the dialogue partner, but now Malaysia is the facilitator and Thailand is the dialogue partner, he said.

Source: NAM News Network

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