BANGKOK: The head of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic group, began a mission here yesterday that Thailand hopes will help ease tensions in the Muslim-majority south where an insurgency is raging.
The Indonesia-based Ulama's chairman Hasyim Muzadi, leading a five-member team here, met Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra early yesterday to discuss the conflict that has claimed more than 630 lives since January last year.
Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said the two men agreed the militants were using religion to fuel the violence and that improved education in the south was key to boosting living standards and ending economic problems in the region.
Hasyim was granted a royal audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday evening and was due to meet Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders and to travel with his team through the southern provinces along the Malaysian border, Kantathi said.
He said misunderstandings could be solved if we speak frankly and exchange information, Kantathi added. AFP
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