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OIC To Help In Southern Thailand Political Process

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BANGKOK:The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation hopes to play a role in the ongoing political process between the Thailand government and separatist groups in the south of the country.

OIC secretary general, Iyad Ameen Madani, said the organisation conveyed to Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha during their meeting Tuesday that the OIC would only do so “if there is agreement” with Bangkok.

“We offer ourselves as a facilitator, part of the confidence-building measures for a political process in the south (of Thailand).

“We are very much encouraged by what is happening under the present leadership. We think there is a genuine attitude towards solving the problem,” he told journalists in an interview here Tuesday night.

Madani, who arrived in Bangkok three days ago from Kuala Lumpur, said the OIC was very supportive of the talks between Bangkok and the separatist groups and “if asked, we can play that role”.

Nevertheless, he also made it clear that the OIC was not imposing on a solution to the problem and “has no agenda” but only to offer itself as a stage for building confidence.

At the interview, which was held at the end of his visit to Thailand, the OIC secretary-general also stressed that the conflict in southern Thailand “has no religious roots”.

Thailand and the separatist groups had held several rounds of talks facilitated by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in an effort to a find a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in the country’s southern region.

According to Madani, “history of unrest” and a “sense of disagreement” could only be solved through a political process by “getting people to talk to each other”.

He also stated strongly that there should not be any question on the integrity of the Kingdom of Thailand.

“All Thais are citizens and they have equal rights. We see Thailand as a place where there is complete freedom of religion. There is no hindrance or obstacle in practising your religion,” he said.

Besides the political process, the OIC secretary-general also hoped that the organisation could play a role in the economic development of southern Thailand.

“The OIC, with all its apparatus, financial institutions and development system can play an important component in such economic activities,” he said, adding that the halal industry had a big potential to flourish in Thailand, especially in its southern region.

He said the global halal industry, worth US$3 trillion, was lucrative and represented numerous economic opportunities.- BERNAMA



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