Thai Gov't Rejects Talks With Bangkok Protesters
Demands that Red Shirts disperse before negotiations begin
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2010 5:27 AM CDT
Updated May 18, 2010 6:24 AM CDT
"Red Shirt" activists stand guard at their barricade in Bangkok yesterday.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
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(Newser) – Red Shirt leaders today accepted an offer for peace talks brokered by the Thailand's Senate, but hopes for an end to the mayhem were quickly shot down by the embattled prime minister, who dismissed the proposal for talks until the protesters have dispersed. Thousands of Red Shirt protesters remain camped out in the middle of the city; confrontations with troops have killed 37 people over the last 5 days and turned large parts of the capital into a battle zone.

A military spokesman accused the 5,000 remaining protesters of using women and children as human shields, reports the AP. Protesters were ordered to abandon their camp by 3pm yesterday but the deadline passed without the expected military crackdown. "The situation will end only when the protest stops," was the word from PM Abhisit Jejjajiva. The protesters are demanding that he dissolve Parliament and call early elections.