Thailand Seeks Closer Ties with Muslim Nations

August 3, 2007

Author: Ron Corben

Source: VOA News

http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-08-03-voa11.cfm

The Thai Government is seeking closer links with Muslim countries, part of a two-pronged strategy to end separatist violence in three of its southern provinces. Even as the government was announcing the plan, at least 13 more people died in the area this week in bombing and shooting attacks. Ron Corben reports from Bangkok.

A security report released by the Thai Cabinet this week says the government will pursue closer ties with Muslim countries, especially Malaysia and Indonesia.

The statement, part of a draft foreign policy paper on security, said closer contacts would also be developed with international Muslim organizations and foundations.

Also this week, the Thai military reported it had rounded up more than 1,900 suspected militants during recent sweeps across the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani. The military calls 300 of those in custody "leading insurgents," who supervised and staged attacks.

Analysts are viewing these moves as a two-pronged strategy by the government to end the three-year-old Muslim insurgency in the three provinces, which sit on Thailand's southern border with predominately-Muslim Malaysia. The violence has claimed almost 2,500 lives since 2004.