World Bulletin / News Desk
Emailed statements from separatist umbrella group Mara Patani said negotiations had concluded in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Friday with further "unofficial talks" planned.
The group said both sides had agreed to new Terms of Reference (TOR), but this was denied by Thailand's lead negotiator, Gen. Aksara Kerdphol, who said the sides only agreed to protocol for the talks, including the payment of costs and language used.
Kerdphol also told reporters on arriving back in Bangkok that he had proposed Safety Zones across southern provinces to show that the rebels were serious about talks.
Mara Patani said they would consider the proposal.
Earlier peace talks ended last year without any resolution.
From August 2015 to April 2016, representatives from the two sides met on several occasions to nail out the TOR for a formal process, but when it came to signing the TOR, Thailand balked.
The latest meeting comes amid concerns from local analysts that Mara Patani does not represent active groups operating on the ground.
Several bombings linked to separatist insurgents and occurring ahead of the talks targeted resort towns and government offices earlier this month, leaving four dead.
The southern insurgency is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between Malay Muslims living in the southern region and the Thai central state where Buddhism is considered the de-facto national religion.
Armed insurgent groups were formed in the 1960s after the then-military dictatorship tried to interfere in Islamic schools, but the insurgency faded in the 1990s.
In 2004, a rejuvenated armed movement -- composed of numerous local cells of fighters loosely grouped around an organization called the National Revolutionary Front or BRN -- emerged.
The confrontation is one of the deadliest low-intensity conflicts on the planet.