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Published on Thursday, 07 February 2013 14:20
Myanmar government and Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) holding a peace talk in Rulli, China
(Photo - Waiyan Moe Thone Thann's Facebook)
Peace talks between the Myanmar government and Kachin Independence Organisation will continue with both sides agreeing to hold another round before the end of the month, they said on Monday.
The statement came after the first day of informal talks between the union level peace-making committee and the KIO. The talks were brokered by Beijing and held in the Chinese border town of Ruili.
Both sides discussed the establishment of a liaison, reducing military tension and inviting observers as witnesses for the next talks, the statement said.
They also agreed to discuss the establishment of a surveillance system for conflict areas in the northern state of Kachin.
Kachin Independence Army vice chief of staff Maj-General Guan Maw said his side was doing its best to achieve peace.
Minister Aung Min said that both sides had agreed to reduce military activity and that the KIO would discuss the peace process with the government’s army in more detail in the next round of talks.
The KIA would issue an order to halt all fighting except in self-defence, following President Thein Sein’s order to the government military to do the same, Aung Min added.
He also said Kachin Maj-General Guan Maw had been invited to attend a reception for Union Day on February 12.
Guan Maw said that the KIO was ready to accept steps taken to ensure peace and that it was encouraging to see other organisations and Chinese government officials present as witnesses.
However, the talks did not include troop withdrawals and skirmishes might continue as the talks proceeded, he said.
“We don't accept military-forced peace talks as we have formally told the government,” Gwan Maw said. “If the talks are successful our struggle will be over. We want to pave the way for peace talks politically. Talks at this time are not meant to bring troop withdrawals from both sides. There may be skirmishes between the troops of the government and KIA [as the talks continue],” he said.
The peace talks comprised six members of the government’s Union Peace-Making Committee and five members from the Kachin Independence Army and its political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation. Also present were Ambassador Luo Zhaohui of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Kayin National Union chairman General Saw Mutu Hsay Phoe and general secretary Phado Saw Kwe Htoo Win and Shan State Army representatives, including Brig-General Sai Lu.
The last peace talks were held in Ruili, China on October 30. The government side was led by Aung Min and representatives of the Kachin Independence Organisation were led by Swam Lut Gam. Bureau of Special Operation Lt-General Myint Soe, from the Ministry of Defense, did not attend as planned because Kachin Independence Army vice-military chief Maj-General Guan Maw did not attend. The talks failed.
Skirmishes between government and rebel troops intensified after December 23 when the government gave the KIA two days to withdraw all troops from areas near the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway. The KIA rejected the order.
Despite the recent peace talks, skirmishes continue in the state’s Pharkant region. The number of persons displaced by the conflict is estimated to be more than 160,000.
State media reported yesterday that the government would permit international humanitarian aid to enter conflict areas in Kachin State.