Malaysia says it is ready to help mediate truce talks between the Thai government and separatists in the deep South.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung yesterday that Kuala Lumpur would help as Thai authorities try to solve the longstanding conflict in the three largely Muslim provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, according to ThaiPBS.
Mr Najib said the talks would be similar to those held in the Philippines' Mindanao island, where a peace treaty was signed late last year between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group, and the Philippine government.
Mr Chalerm yesterday called on Mr Najib at his office at the Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya, and asked for his cooperation.
He held a one and a half hour-long meeting with Mr Najib.
Mr Chalerm led top Thai security officials on a three-day visit to Malaysia, from Tuesday to yesterday.
He spoke to the Bangkok Post and said Mr Najib had assured him that Malaysia would fully cooperate with Thailand in matters related to the far South conflict.
Mr Chalerm said he had also asked the Malaysian premier to help register more than 150,000 Thais who are working at Tom Yum Kung restaurants across Malaysia.
He said about 6,900 Thais had legally registered so far to work at the restaurants in Malaysia.
Thai authorities believe that if those Thais, who mainly come from the deep South, work legally in Malaysia they will be able to send money back home with greater ease.
Authorities believe the struggling economy of the deep South was one of key factors driving many Muslims to join separatist movements.
Mr Najib also assured Mr Chalerm that Malaysia had never supported separatists in Thailand's South.
He said he hoped there will be stability and peace in the area by 2015, the year that Asean is set to become a single economic community.
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- Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros