National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut and Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) liaison office chief Hassan Taib have agreed to endorse a peace dialogue process, after their historic pact signed last week.
A security source said Lt Gen Paradorn flew to Malaysia Tuesday to meet Mr Hassan. Both sides agreed to sign an accord endorsing Malaysia-brokered peace talks on the far South on March 28.
The move comes after the NSC and Mr Hassan agreed in Kuala Lumpur last week to open peace talks between the government and the BRN. The BRN is the first group to agree to such talks.
Official logo of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Pattani, set for talks with the government.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha says the southern unrest can end only with careful negotiations.
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He said the government cannot immediately agree to any proposals from the deep South insurgents, as they must first go through proper legal procedures and parliamentary mechanisms.
Gen Prayuth said it is normal for each side to press for its demands to be met but authorities must proceed carefully.
He insisted that the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani must not be separated from the rest of the country and said it is up to the government to consider making the region a special administrative zone.
However, he warned the unrest could not be brought to a swift end.
The government must make sure that ending the problem today does not create new ones in the future, he said.
"It is impossible to give up [territory] to anyone," he said. "Everything must be discussed at the negotiation table, under the law and constitution."
Gen Prayuth said the best way to solve the southern violence is to implement five key measures. These are: improving local livelihoods; improving education; protecting the lives and properties of locals; administering justice; and holding forums to find solutions to the unrest.
He said efforts to solve the insurgency must be in line with strategies laid down by the NSC, and state authorities must not be in conflict with each other.
Meanwhile, suspected militants launched 41 attacks in seven districts of Yala on Monday night.
Most of the attacks were minor disruptions involving burning car tyres.
A security source said the attacks could be the work of the Permudan Baru youth movement.
Members are thought to have been recruited and trained by the Runda Kumpulan Kecil separatist group to replace members who had been killed or arrested, the source said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who is in charge of security operations in the deep South, said yesterday the attacks, which occurred outside urban regions, were an unsuccessful attempt to lure security authorities out of downtown areas.
He said differing views on the NSC's proposal to lift the emergency decree in five districts in the far South were raised at a meeting of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre on Monday. Officials had asked to negotiate with Malaysia before reaching a conclusion.
In Yala, security officers from the Yala 11 taskforce yesterday arrested Masaopee Domae, an employee at the Yala Highways District Office who is suspected of being involved in several bomb attacks in the province.
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Writer: Wassana Nanuam & Muhammad Ayub Pathan