KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Thai authorities and Muslim militant leaders based in neighboring Malaysia agreed Thursday to hold talks to help ease nearly a decade of unrest in southern Thailand.
Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary general of Thailand’s National Security Council, and a Malaysian-based senior representative of the National Revolution Front signed the agreement aimed at starting the talks. No schedule was immediately given for future meetings, and the two sides did not elaborate later about their plans.
The agreement was signed in Kuala Lumpur ahead of a meeting later Thursday between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Thai counterpart, Yingluck Shinawatra.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004.
Malaysia, whose northern states border Thailand’s south, is acting as a facilitator to bring some of the insurgents to peace talks.
Paradorn said earlier this week fewer than 1,000 insurgents are living on the Malaysian side of the border.