The United States should play a key role in negotiating with Myanmar to take back thousands of Rohingya migrants who are being sheltered in several provinces of Thailand, a seminar was told yesterday.
Col Teeranan Nandhakwang, deputy director of the Strategic and Security Affairs Division at Royal Thai Armed Forces, said Thailand should ask the US to help negotiate with the Myanmar government to move Rohingya migrants back to the country.
Col Teeranan was speaking at the seminar titled "Rohingya: Testing for Asean" held by the Institute of Asean Studies of Chulalongkorn University.
He said Thailand cannot pressure Myanmar to accept the Rohingya migrants as a lot of Thai businesses are currently investing there.
But he believed the country can ask for help from the US, which wants to play a role in this region, he said.
"Myanmar is opening up its country and wants to counterbalance the power with China while the US wants to return to Myanmar," Col Teeranan said.
"Using the US to talk with Myanmar might help convince the latter to accept the Rohingya people."
Thailand could work in parallel with the US by acting as a coordinator to hold meetings with other Asean member countries to resolve the problem, he said.
The Immigration Bureau's Sub-Division 3 chief Anucha Kitivipart said 1,772 Rohingya migrants had been found entering southern Thailand illegally between Jan 9 and Wednesday.
Pol Col Anucha said as shelters in Songkhla were crowded, some Rohingya migrants had been moved to Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Khai, Mukdahan and Kanchanaburi.
In Kanchanaburi, police have taken 16 Rohingya men to a hospital in Muang district after they complained of stomach pains after breakfast yesterday.
Phaholpolpayuhasaena Hospital director Somjate Laoluekiat said the patients had a mild stomach ache and suggested the cause might be food poisoning.
Pol Lt Col Artorn Wongjaikuer, deputy chief of Kanchanaburi's Immigrant Bureau, said 150 Rohingya people ate the same food and only 16 of them got sick. He said if it was because of the food, the number of sick should be higher.
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- Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol