Malaysia and Thailand agreed Monday to step up cooperation in responding to unrest in Thailand’s troubled south, as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made his first official visit here.
After talks with his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, Abhisit told reporters he will adopt a peaceful and conciliatory approach towards Thailand’s predominantly Muslim region, which borders Malaysia.
“We thank the Malaysian government for the close cooperation and support on the matter, in both security and socio-economic aspects,” the Thai premier was quoted as saying by Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency.
According to Bernama, the two countries will cooperate in offering opportunities to youths in Thailand’s south, to help achieve peace and stability.
The two leaders discussed cooperation “under the three E’s concept, which are education, employment and entrepreneurship,” said Abhisit, who took power in December after a long political crisis in Thailand.
Previous Thai leaders have also sought Malaysia’s help over Thailand’s southern regions. Both countries are key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Najib said Thailand had asked Malaysia to share its Islamic curriculum with schools in the region.
Bernama said both premiers agreed to make a symbolic visit to a school there to underscore their cooperation, but no date had been set.
More than 3,700 people have been killed and thousands more wounded after an insurgency in the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat erupted in January 2004.
Buddhist-majority Thailand annexed the former ethnic Malay sultanate in 1902, leading to decades of tension.
In the latest violence in the region, a soldier was killed by a bomb blast and separatist militants shot dead a rubber tapper on Monday, after three deaths in Narathiwat over the weekend.
Source : AFP