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Thai leader urges reconciliation, defends amnesty bill after street protests

In this photo released by Thai Spokesman Office, Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, center, flanked by  Cabinet ministers and aides, speaks during a news conference at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Yingluck said the government will not interfere with the legislative process, as the Thai Senate will soon debate the controversial amnesty bill which many said was designed to bring her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, back from overseas exile.(AP Photo/Thai Spokesman Office)

In this photo released by Thai Spokesman Office, Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, center, flanked by Cabinet ministers and aides, speaks during a news conference at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Yingluck said the government will not interfere with the legislative process, as the Thai Senate will soon debate the controversial amnesty bill which many said was designed to bring her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, back from overseas exile.(AP Photo/Thai Spokesman Office)  (The Associated Press)

Thailand's prime minister has defended a political amnesty bill that has sparked large protests in the country's capital.

Opponents of the bill say it is designed to bring former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra back from overseas exile.

His sister and the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, said in a televised address Tuesday that the amnesty could solve the country's longstanding political divisions.

The bill would grant amnesties to leaders and others involved in the sometimes-violent conflicts.

It was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. A group of senators said Tuesday they will reject the bill when they debate it next week.

Yingluck said she believes the lower house will accept the Senate's decision, suggesting that her government will not push the legislation further if the Senate rejects it.