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Thaksin urging reconciliation

THAILAND'S fugitive former leader, who called for revolution earlier this week as his supporters' riots paralyzed Bangkok, urged the protests' leaders yesterday to join government reconciliation talks.

The government's call for parliament to meet to resolve the political crisis came a day after Thai authorities announced they had revoked ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's passport for inciting the protesters with his rhetoric.

The former leader said from Dubai the move would not restrict his movement as he has multiple passports, including a diplomatic one issued by Nicaragua.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who returned to his government offices for the first time yesterday since demonstrations began three weeks ago, said a special joint session of the parliament would begin the process of healing next week.

"The true end to the problem will be a collective political solution," Abhisit said in his first public appearance since his car was attacked by protesters on Sunday, a day before riots erupted in the streets of Bangkok.

Thaksin, who has been on the run since fleeing Thailand last year, echoed his political rival's sentiments. "If the government wants to reconcile, I will encourage the red shirts to participate," he said. "We have to bring both sides together."

Tens of thousands of his followers paralyzed many parts of the capital earlier this week, burning buses to block major intersections and clashing with soldiers. The protests ended on Tuesday in the face of a major military crackdown.

Though both leaders have talked reconciliation, the process of bridging the divide is unlikely to be an easy one.

Thaksin also said he wanted Thailand's widely respected King Bhumibol Adulyadej to help resolve the conflict in a bid to quell future unrest.


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