Gen Aksara: peace talks with southern separatists are progressing

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Safety zone will be a key issue for discussion in the next round of preliminary talks between the government and southern separatist groups with Malaysia acting as the facilitator, said General Aksara Kerdphol, chief of the government’s negotiating team, on Wednesday.

He claimed that informal talks between the two sides were progressing satisfactorily with the government side having setting out all the pre-conditions. However, he said Mara Patani, an umbrella organization representing the six separatist groups, had demanded more details about the pre-conditions so they could report to the facilitator in Kuala Lumpur.

The general said that the two sides are now waiting for a word from KL about when the new round of informal talk will take place.

He disclosed that the separatist groups would like to set the areas designated as safe zone. He said he had no objection to the groups’ demand but the groups must make sure that there will be no violence in the safe zone by both sides.

General Aksara said that a booklet to explain about the peace talks and developments in the Deep South since last year would be issued in order to dispel misunderstanding about the peace process.