The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) and the Thai government have agreed to a reduction of violence during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The agreement with the BRN had National Security Council secretary-general Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut, left, in a good mood as he briefed the media covering the third peace talks session in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. (AFP photo)
The tentative agreement was reached yesterday during the third round of peace talks between the BRN delegation headed by Hassan Taib and the Thai delegation headed by National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanatabut.
"In principle, both sides agreed to reduce violence during the holy month of Ramadan in order to save lives. This is in accordance with the spirit of the Ramadan and as an expression of sincerity, goodwill and trust on the part of both sides," according to a joint NSC-BRN media statement released last night.
"When we commit to peace, we must trust each other. This is the first step," Nipat Thonglek, a senior member of the government's negotiating team, told reporters.
The peace talks, held at an undisclosed location in Kuala Lumpur, started at 9am and ended about 6.30pm local time.
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Details of the terms and conditions for a violence-free Ramadan in the deep South will be provided at the earliest opportunity, the statement said.
"The BRN shall provide detailed clarification on the five initial demands they previously submitted to the Thai government. Upon receipt of this submission, the Thai side is committed to providing a response through the facilitator on the earliest possible date," it said.
Both parties agreed to meet again after the 30-day Ramadan fasting month, which will begin on July 9 or 10..
Several conditions which insurgents could set could include Thai security forces suspending searches, arrests and raids, a source inside the Thai negotiation team said.
The source said the BRN had reaffirmed that Bangkok must accept their five demands, issued via a YouTube video posted in April.
The insurgents want Malaysia to mediate the talks; the unconditional release of political prisoners; the recognition of the BRN as the Pattani liberation movement; the participation of other Asean members in the talks; and for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other non-governmental organisations to witness the talks.
"However, we only agreed to forward their demands to the Southern Command Centre for consideration," the source said. The Thai negotiators said the talks were "satisfying" and both sides were happy with the outcome.
Deputy permanent secretary for defence, Nipat Thonglek, one of the Thai negotiators, said the outcome of the talks sent out a good signal for the peace process.
Maj Gen Nakrob Bunbuathong, deputy director of Internal Security Operation Command Region 5, who was also at the talks, said there were positive gestures at the meeting.
"The BRN said they would consider and look at ways to reduce violence during Ramadan," he said.
Meanwhile, speaking in Bangkok ahead of the talks, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the peace dialogue would continue no matter how Thursday's talks turned out.
Elsewhere, a ranger was wounded in a bomb blast while providing security for teachers travelling to schools in Pattani's Sai Buri district Thursday, police said. In Khok Pho district, a fire broke out in a classroom at Ban Khlong Chang Nai School in tambon Naket.
The school was only slightly damaged.
Police and forensic experts examine a classroom at Ban Khlong Chang Nai School in Pattani’s Khok Pho district after it was gutted by a fire that broke out about 5am Thursday. No one was injured in the blaze. (Photo by Abdulloh Benjakat
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