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    May 22, 2014

    Opposing camps in Thailand hold talks


    THAILAND'S military hosted ground-breaking talks yesterday between warring political rivals, after the army chief imposed martial law to prevent the deeply divided kingdom from degenerating into another "Ukraine or Egypt".

    The opposing camps and other top officials met for more than two hours under heavy guard in Bangkok.

    There was no breakthrough at the talks chaired by army leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who invoked martial law on Tuesday, and another meeting was called for today.

    "The atmosphere at the meeting was good. At least we had a chance to talk to each other," Thida Thavornseth, a core leader of the "Red Shirt" movement that supports the beleaguered government, said.

    But she added: "I don't know whether we can come up with anything concrete tomorrow."

    General Prayuth, 60, has said he invoked martial law to prevent political tensions from spiralling out of control following months of deadly anti-government protests, and insisted that he intends to broker a solution, but critics have branded his actions a de facto coup.

    "I will not allow Thailand to be like Ukraine or Egypt," Gen Prayuth said on Tuesday, according to remarks released by the military.

    Both pro- and anti-government protesters remain out in force, but the army has confined them to their separate protest sites in and around Bangkok.

    Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned travellers to Thailand that the situation could evolve rapidly, and urged them to monitor local news closely.

    Singaporeans should avoid large gatherings and protest marches, the ministry said in its travel advisory, adding that there are reports of people carrying firearms and explosives at the protest sites. Traffic disruptions and delays are expected to be severe.