Ethnic armed groups, gov’t set for informal talks to break ceasefire impasse


Yangon, 29 June—Peace negotiators from the government and ethnic armed groups are likely to meet this week in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in an effort to revive faltering talks on a national ceasefire accord, a senior adviser at Myanmar Peace Centre said Monday.
“Both sides are preparing to have an informal meeting which is tentatively set for Friday, 3 July in Chiang Mai,” U Hla Maung Shwe told The Global New Light of Myanmar, adding that the date of the meeting will be confirmed Thursday.
Union Minister U Aung Min, vice-chairman of Union Peace-making Work Committee, will lead a government delegation, the MPC senior advisor said, adding that other members of the party have yet to be confirmed.
He said it is not clear whether the talks will involve the ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team or the new 15-member negotiating team appointed by the groups at the Law Khee Lar summit.
The UPWC and NCCT on 31 March approved and signed the national ceasefire accord draft following 17 months of peace negotiations.
Since then, the government indicated its readiness to officially sign the draft deal as soon as possible. But, the ethnic armed groups at the Law Khee Lar summit decided not to sign the accord until further amendments are made and all NCCT members are included in the signing process.
While briefing the media in Yangon last week, NCCT leader Nai Hong Sar, who is also a member of the new negotiating team, said all ethnic groups must be included in the signing of the draft deal, and that the ceasefire must guarantee lasting peace.
A plan to hold the expected meeting in Chiang Mai came after informal talks between three ethnic delegates and a government delegation in Yangon last week following the ethnic side’s unexpected rejection of the draft NCA.
It is hoped that the Chiang Mai meeting can pave the way to a compromise solution over the ceasefire deal.
“The government side will ask for the final deal between the UPWC and NCCT to be approved with no changes at the meeting,” the MPC senior adviser said.
He said there was no need to debate the NCA draft further as the government had agreed to all previous demands from the ethnic armed groups.
“Whatever difficulties, it is required for both sides to find whatever ways they can to achieve peace.”
In his article entitled “Seize the moment for peace” in Foreign Policy Magazine three days ago, U Aung Min, the government’s chief peace negotiator, called for ethnic armed leaders to move forward with the government by signing the ceasefire agreement to bring an end to the country’s long-running civil war. GNLM

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