BANGKOK–Thailand is to start peace talks with Muslim rebel groups operating in the south, a senior security official said on Wednesday, signaling a possible breakthrough in a conflict that by many estimates has claimed the lives of well over 5,000 people. “This is the first step. The start of a peace dialogue with representatives from Muslim rebel groups,” Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), told Reuters by phone from Kuala Lumpur. An agreement on preliminary discussions is to be signed on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur.
Following the signing of the agreement a meeting will be held between Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Razak.