By Tuwaedaniya Meringing
PATTANI (Thailand), Jan 12 (NNN-Bernama) — The south Thailand face to face peace talks that was deferred for almost two years now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed for the first time on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Chief negotiator General Wanlop Rugsanaoh and the most influential armed group in south Thailand, the National Revolution Front (BRN) headed by Anas Abdulrahman, attended the Joint Working Group Peace Dialogue Process on Southern Thailand Meeting.
Also present at the two-day meeting that ended today is the former Malaysian inspector general of police Rahim Mohd Noor, who acted as the facilitator.
The secretary of the peace negotiation process Lt.Gen. Thira Daewa said three key points were agreed at the negotiation table – reduce violence on the ground, include the participation of the political wings and workout a field negotiation mechanism.
“This will be the direction of the up coming peace negotiation,” he said to Bernama when contacted from here.
Wanlop is expected to address the media in Phuket on Saturday where he is expected to highlight the developments during the peace talks in Kuala Lumpur that ended Wednesday.
The first face to face meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 20, 2020 when both sides agreed that negotiations were the best way forward in ending the armed conflict in south Thailand. The second meeting was held on 2nd and 3rd March 2020 also in Kuala Lumpur.
The meetings provide a ray of hope in ending the bloodshed in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where the Muslims make up the majority.
The face to face talks came to a halt after Thailand and Malaysia closed their borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, both sides had met virtually three times during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
More than 7,000 people were killed in the armed conflict in south Thailand that began in 2004.