KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — The Thai government and Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) — the southern Thai armed separatist group — are set to resume peace talks here this month, according to The Star.

The English daily reported that this will be the first face-to-face meeting between the parties after two years of virtual negotiations due to Covid-19 pandemic.

BRN operates in four provinces — Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla — which make up Thailand’s Deep South near Malaysia’s northern border and is predominantly Muslim-Malay.

The Star reported that the facilitator for the talks would be former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Rahim Noor, representing the Malaysian government.

He confirmed to the daily that the latest round of talks would take place soon, but added that no date had been fixed yet.

“It is scheduled to be held in the middle of January, but the date has not been finalised,” he said, as reported by The Star.

Rahim said the meetings had progressed “very well’’ but declined to elaborate further.

Negotiations involved representatives of the Thai government with chief negotiator Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh, while the BRN delegation was led by Anas Abdulrahman @ Hipni Mareh, a high-ranking official said to be foreign educated and a former schoolteacher.

The previous in-person talks between Thailand and the BRN were held in Kuala Lumpur in January and early March 2020.

The separatist insurgency in southern Thailand has claimed over 7,000 lives and wounded over 13,000 since the violence escalated in April 2004.