October 24, 2018 / 12:45 PM / a month ago

Malaysia's Mahathir pledges to help end violence in Thai south

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha attend a news conference at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad promised on Wednesday to do what could to bring peace to neighbouring Thailand’s insurgency-plagued south.

Parts of the south of majority-Buddhist Thailand are mostly Muslim, including the three provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani where a decades-old separatist insurgency has killed more than 7,000 people.

“We pledge to help in whatever way possible to end this violence in the south,” Mahathir, 93, told reporters after meeting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on his first visit to Thailand since his stunning win in May’s general elections.

“It is not just the case of talking or drawing up treaties, it is really a cooperation between two friendly neighbours and we want to continue that friendship,” Mahathir said.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has helped to arrange peace talks between successive Thai governments and insurgent groups, but little progress has been made so far.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Nick Macfie

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