October 20, 2017

Chiang Mai talks raise hopes ceasefire deal will be signed soon

Pu Zing Cung, deputy leader-2 of the senior delegation of ethnic armed groups, speaks at the second day of the preliminary meeting on a ceasefire deal with the government’s peace negotiating team, led by Union Minister U Aung Min, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Saturday.
Pu Zing Cung, deputy leader-2 of the senior delegation of ethnic armed groups, speaks at the second day of the preliminary meeting on a ceasefire deal with the government’s peace negotiating team, led by Union Minister U Aung Min, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Saturday.

Prospects for the signing of a national ceasefire agreement “look good,” a senior adviser at the Myanmar Peace Centre said Saturday, following a second day of preliminary talks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, between negotiators from the government and ethnic armed groups.
“Prospects for signing the NCA look good as it has been confirmed that formal talks will take place in Yangon,” said U Hla Maung Shwe, who attended the meeting aimed at clearing roadblocks to the ceasefire deal. At the three-hour meeting, the new senior delegation representing the ethnic side said the armed groups are not dogmatic in holding to a set of points they made at their recent Law Khee Lar summit, and are willing to further negotiate the draft text to ensure it is acceptable to both sides, the MPC senior adviser told The Global New Light of Myanmar.
“Both sides cleared roadblocks in the peace process, setting a principle of moving towards further talks for the truce deal,” U Hla Maung Shwe said.
According to the MPC senior adviser, the government side said it will be hard to continue if the ethnic side remains adamant about the signing process involving all ethnic armed groups, with the ethnic delegates agreeing to consider alternatives. He said the meeting was more productive than expected, as the ethnic delegation pledged to reach an official signing of the NCA and start a framework meeting before the elections set for early November.  According to the NCA draft approved in late March between the government and the ethnic groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, both sides agreed to hold a framework meeting within 60 days and start political dialogues within 90 days of signing the NCA.
The latest talks marked the first meeting between the government’s peace negotiating team and the ethnic group’s senior delegation.

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