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Thai PM to Hold Second Round of Talks with Red Shirts

PM Abhisit has so far refused protesters' demand to dissolve parliament and call new elections

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and leaders of the so-called Red Shirt opposition movement met for a second day of talks Monday in a bid to resolve the country's political crisis.

During the negotiations, which were broadcast live, Mr. Vejjajiva said he was willing to hold elections before his term ended. However, he again rejected opposition demands that he dissolve parliament within the next 15 days, saying the move would not solve Thailand's deep political divisions.

No date has been set for more talks.

On Sunday, the prime minister held three hours of televised negotiations with the supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption.

Tens of thousands of Red Shirt protesters forced the military to withdraw Saturday from Bangkok's old historic quarter, where they had been stationed since the protests started two weeks ago.

Mr. Thaksin, who is living in exile to avoid a jail sentence, remains widely popular with Thailand's rural poor and urban working classes. He frequently addresses his supporters by video link. He recently urged them to increase pressure on the government.

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