Thailand kicks off peace talks with rebels with an ice-breaking session
KUALA LUMPUR - Peace talks between the Thai government and a major southern Thailand Muslim rebel group are set to begin in earnest on Thursday with an ice breaking session between the groups, a senior Thai government official said.
"Today we will focus on building mutual trust and good relations," Thai security council chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr told reporters before the talks.
The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) led by Mr Hassan Taib, believed to be the largest of the southern Thailand rebel group, is the chief negotiator with the Thai government to end separatist violence that has left some 5,000 dead.
It is unclear how long the peace talks will take but analysts say discussions may be hampered by the task of communicating among the disparate rebels in southern Thailand.