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No Agreement as Thai Prime Minister Meets Protesters

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has met with leaders of the anti-government "Red Shirt" protest movement, but there was no agreement on how to solve the country's political crisis.

The prime minister held live, televised negotiations Sunday with the Red Shirts, who have staged mass protests in Bangkok to demand new elections.

Mr. Abhisit refused to dissolve parliament and call new elections. Both sides plan to meet again on Monday.

In his weekly television address Sunday morning, Mr. Abhisit said he would not be forced into meeting with the supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. But a few hours later, Mr. Abhisit's office made a special televised announcement saying he would meet protest leaders in a bid to restore peace and minimize the chance of violence.

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

The Red Shirts are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption.

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, AFP, Reuters.