'Peace panel' in the deep South sets out its priorities for talks

'Peace panel' in the deep South sets out its priorities for talks

Thailand has proposed two urgent issues for stakeholders to discuss in their efforts to solve the conflict in the deep South, according to a source close to the Peace Dialogue Panel.

PEACE pow-wow: Chatchai Bangchuad, head of the government's peace panel, left, shakes hands with Malaysia's Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin on Friday. Mr Chatchai visited Malaysia to introduce himself and express his determination to pursue peace in the South.

Reduction of violence and involving the public in the peace negotiation process are two areas the government-appointed panel headed by Chatchai Bangchuad will advocate once they start work, said the source.

A Ramadan peace initiative, in which violence is halted during the Islamic month of fasting, is high on the agenda. It hoped the move would foster an atmosphere favourable to the public consultation process too.

In terms of courting public opinion, the panel was committed to inclusivity and engagement to ensure that voices from all stakeholders were considered.

A working committee under the panel is expected to hold talks with various parties in January next year, to be followed by a full-team discussion.

The timeline for talks follows a meeting between Mr Chatchai, recently appointed to succeed Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh, and Malaysian facilitator Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin as part of the familiarisation process.

Mr Chatchai on Friday went to Malaysia to introduce himself and expressed renewed determination to pursue the peace process through the Joint Comprehensive Plan Towards Peace.

Mr Chatchai also invited the Malaysian facilitator to visit Thailand to get to know panel members and meet various stakeholders.

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