World Bulletin / News Desk
Thailand said on Thursday talks were under way with members of insurgent groups in Muslim south of the country.
Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces were part of a Malay Muslim sultanate until occupied by Buddhist Thailand a century ago, and pro-independence moves have arised ever since.
The government has ruled out peace talks in the past, most recently in April, but Yutthasak Sasiprapa, a deputy prime minister in charge of security in the south, confirmed there had been a change of heart.
"Right now we are holding peace talks with different insurgent groups but we are still not clear what they want," he told reporters.
The Southern Border Provinces Administration Center, a government agency in charge of security operations in the south, said talks were being held with current and former members of groups active in the region.
Under pressure from the public to come up with solutions to the conflict, the government at first seemed to want to concentrate on suppressing the insurgency, setting up a new command centre last month to oversee operations.
Yutthasak said the government was liaising with two main insurgent groups but that talks were not yet at the negotiation stage.
Local Muslims largely oppose the presence of tens of thousands of police, soldiers and state-armed Buddhist guards in the rubber-rich region and many suspect the authorities of carrying out extrajudicial killings.
More than 4,000 people have been killed since a decades-old pro-freedom movement in 2004 in the mainly Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, which border Malaysia.
Foreign Ministry hits out over ongoing deaths as OIC fact-finding mission seeks access to disputed region
Former military officer accuses president of kowtowing to China in territorial dispute to curry economic favor
The meeting, which is scheduled for April 6-7, could be crucial in setting the tone of the relationship between the two powers in coming years.
Move follows recent attacks against students, particularly Nigerians, in northern Greater Noida city
Group issues statement asserting right to defend Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine state
The verdict is the latest legal case to hamper an opposition movement struggling to break Prime Minister Hun Sen's 32-year grip on power.
Former South Korean leader appears for hearing to decide prosecution’s arrest warrant request
Turmaks to construct 6-floor, multi-facility King Salman Mosque
It is not possible, physically or technically, for terrorists to get hold of nuclear weapons and fire them: Mubarak Mand
Women ice hockey team to play in tournament in South Korea amid heightened tensions
Delegation from Yangon will meet local leaders following crackdown, alleged abuses in western state
Newspapers said relatives of the missing had been put through "heaven and hell" and accused the maritime ministry of recklessness.
The confirmation, which sparked strong criticism from rights groups, came a day after Lee Ming-cheh's wife said he had been detained by Chinese security units.
He is now the fourth wealthiest man in China, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, with $23.3 billion on March 29, just behind Pony Ma, founder of internet giant Tencent.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry says it summoned a French diplomat after a Chinese national was killed by a police officer in Paris.
At least 35 people detained amid riots after Paris police shot Chinese national dead on Sunday