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Suthep says top brass ready to talk

SUTHEP THAUGSUBAN, secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said last night he may meet with top military and police brass today as they had accepted his request, if the meeting is approved by the supreme commander, whom he also wants to meet.

The anti-government protest leader said he had, yesterday afternoon, requested to meet the supreme commander and commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force as well as the commissioner-general of the National Police. In his speech last night, he said he had been trying to reach Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn all day but in vain.

Suthep said he would wait until 8pm today and would not push for a meeting. He also cited his phone conversation with police chief General Adul Saengsingkaew, saying the police chief had agreed to meet him today though the venue and time had not been decided upon.

Also yesterday, Suthep said the PDRC planned to make its stance clear and propose solutions and objectives for political reform, and also give the five military and police officers a chance to ask about the PDRC's plans so they can decide whether to side with the general public and PDRC supporters.

The PDRC is also seeking a similar meeting, at an unspecified time and date, with representatives of the private sector, mainly professional regulatory bodies and civil society, to discuss its objectives and its stance on non-violence, peace, tolerance, openness and an unarmed campaign to free Thai politics of corruption and abuse of power.

Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was hoping the military would stay neutral politically and abide by His Majesty's speech on December 5 calling all sides to serve their duties. "If everything is run under rules and regulations, I believe all government officials will obey them," she added.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has earlier called on all Thais to observe the rule of law and principles to bring an end to these perennial political conflicts, deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said.

"The best way is to find a path that everyone can move along together, bridge the political divide. In reality, people win some and lose some. We have to strike a balance and find a middle path that all sides can accept," Winthai quoted Prayuth as saying.

Prayuth is concerned that as civic groups and the public and private sectors are split over how to break through the current political impasse, they cannot strive towards a real solution if they fiercely believe in their own scenario.

"If this situation can be eased quickly, people can go back home and make a living as well as develop the country. The military will also carry out its duty," Prayuth was quoted as saying.

Generals Prayuth, Prawit Wongsuwan and Anupong Paochinda had not spoken to Suthep and saw no reason for dialogue as the military knows its own role, Winthai said.

Prayuth has been very cautious in his support to help tackle the country's political crisis by not injecting his personal opinions and urging all parties to avoid breaking the law and resorting to violence or confrontation, he added.


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