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Thai Coup Leader Says Peace in South Will Take Time

The leader of Thailand's coup says establishing peace in the country's volatile southern provinces will take time.

Army General Sondhi Boonyaratglin Wednesday said the unrest in three mainly Muslim provinces can not be changed overnight because it has been ignored for decades. He says a time frame should not be set for the peace process.

Thailand's military-led government has pledged to try to end violence that has killed some 17,000 people in the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat over the past three years.

Sondhi is due to travel to the region with interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Thursday.

Thailand's former government blamed the unrest on Islamist militant separatists, organized criminals and corrupt local officials.

To ease the conflict, military leaders have revived the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center, which was dissolved in 2002 by deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The center had served as a forum where local political and military leaders could discuss complaints with local residents.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.