The United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFC) plans to meet with a Burmese government peace delegation led by President’s Office Minister Aung Min during the first week of November when they will hold informal political dialogue, according to sources close to the ethnic bloc.
The venue for talks will most likely be in Thailand, and representatives from all the UNFC member groups—the Karen, Kachin, Karenni, Mon, Chin, Shan and other minorities—will be involved, said Dr. Khin Maung, the deputy head of UNFC foreign affairs. He said that the UNFC will be headed by General-Secretary Nai Han Thar.
The move came after foreign advisors from the international community encouraged Aung Min’s peace delegation to meet the ethnic alliance, said sources.
The advisers pointed out that the government peace delegation had met with several ethnic armed groups for bilateral talks on ceasefire matters, and that it should also meet with the UNFC as a bloc to discuss political matters, according to Khin Maung.
He said that as the forthcoming meeting will be the first time that both sides have sat down together at the peace table, the agenda should follow that of an informal meeting. But although there is no specific political agenda, the UNFC leaders will discuss their strategy ahead of meeting Aung Min, he said.
The UNFC and its ethnic leadership have generally agreed on the principles of a federal state in Burma. They have said that they would also like to hold another ethnic conference such as that in 1947 in Panglong between Gen. Aung San and ethnic representatives ahead of Burma’s gaining independence from British colonial rule.
Aung Min’s delegation is also scheduled to meet the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) on Oct. 30-31 in Ruili, a Chinese border town in western Yunnan Province.
The KIO has meet with the Naypyidaw peace delegation several times, but without a tangible agreement. The KIO says it will not accept a ceasefire without its political demands being met.
Since last year, Aung Min’s peace negotiators have signed ceasefire agreements with several major ethnic groups, including Karen, Shan, Karenni, Mon, Chin and Pa-O armies.