June 29, 2017

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Gov’t team, ethnic armed groups extend Chiang Mai meeting to second day

Union Minister U Aung Min-led government’s peace negotiating team holds talks with senior delegates of ethnic armed groups in a preliminary meeting to revive stalled peace talks.
Union Minister U Aung Min-led government’s peace negotiating team holds talks with senior delegates of ethnic armed groups in a preliminary meeting to revive stalled peace talks.

Peace negotiators from the government and ethnic armed groups agreed Friday in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to continue their meeting for a second day amid optimism that roadblocks in the ceasefire process can be cleared, according to a senior advisor on the government side.
The talks were the first meeting between the government’s peace negotiating team and a new 15-member senior negotiating team appointed by the ethnic groups at the LawKheeLar summit in early June.
“The meeting was set as a preliminary meeting instead of informal talks, as had been requested by the ethnic side,” U Hla Maung Shwe of the Myanmar Peace Centre told The Global New Light of Myanmar via phone.
A draft nationwide ceasefire accord between the two sides has remained unsigned since the ethnic side’s unexpected rejection of the draft deal at the summit. They decided not to sign the accord until further amendments were made and appointed a new team for further talks with the government.
Fourteen of 15 senior delegates including five former members of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team met in Chiang Mai with the government’s peace negotiators, including Union Ministers U Aung Min and U Khin Yi, the MPC senior adviser said.
Both sides outlined their respective positions on the draft deal before exchanging views on how to end the impasse, he added.
“The government side suggested that a set of amendments to the approved deal by the ethnic side can be considered to be in line with agreements,” he said.
“We proposed to hold further talks about who the NCA signatories should be and to ink the ceasefire deal with 15 ethnic armed groups first.” At the Law Khee Lar summit, the ethnic side decided all members of the NCCT, a coalition of 16 ethnic armed groups, must be included in the signing process.
Nai Hong Sar, the former NCCT leader who is also a member of the new ethnic negotiating team, told The GNLM in Yangon last month that signing of the ceasefire must be all-inclusive, and the deal must guarantee lasting peace.
U Hla Maung Shwe ended the phone interview to the GNLM by calling for flexibility in peace talks, hoping to hear good news at Saturday’s 3 p.m. meeting.

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