Malaysian chief facilitator for southern Thailand peace talks calls on Thai chief negotiator

BANGKOK, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- Malaysian chief facilitator for the Southern Thailand peace dialogue Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin has paid a courtesy call on General Wanlop Rugsanaoh, who led the Peace Dialogue Panel for the Southern Border Provinces of Thailand (PEDP).

It was the first meeting following the appointment of Zulkifli, former chief of defence forces, as the new Malaysian chief facilitator for the peace dialogue process effective Jan 1 this year.

In a statement, the secretariat for PEDP said that during the meeting, Wanlop and Zulkifli discussed matters related to peace process in southern Thailand.

"Wanlop said the Joint Comprehensive Plan Towards Peace will be discussed in the upcoming talk for the implementation in reducing confrontation and violence, seeking public consultation and finding political solutions.

"The Malaysian chief facilitator also informed that the 6th round of peace talk will tentatively take place on February 21 and 22 in Kuala Lumpur,” it said.

Malaysia is the facilitator for the peace dialogue process in ending the decades-old conflict that flared up in January 2004 in the southern provinces in Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and parts of Songkhla.

Zulkifli was appointed as the new Malaysian chief facilitator, replacing former Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor whose service ended on Dec 31, 2022.

Talks between the government and rebels that began in 2013 to bring peace stalled following a military coup in Thailand a year later. Negotiations continued later without the main parties including BRN.

However, negotiations between the Thai government and the BRN resumed in 2019 with concrete and significant progress being made, and raising hopes for an end to violence in Thailand's southern region.

Statistics by the independent monitoring group Deep South Watch indicated an unrelenting cycle of violence in southern Thailand, starting in 2004 in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla - which has claimed more than 7,000 lives so far. - Bernama

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