CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The ethnic armed groups’ new negotiating bloc will meet with the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) for talks in Rangoon on July 22, according to representatives who attended a preparatory dialogue in northern Thailand on Wednesday.
The ethnics’ Senior Delegation, led by Karen National Union (KNU) vice-chair Naw Zipporah Sein, met with Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) officials led by Hla Maung Shwe in Chiang Mai on Wednesday and agreed on the date and location of further talks.
“Ethnic and government leaders will continue negotiating to finalize the draft text of the nationwide ceasefire agreement,” said Hla Maung Shwe following the meeting.
La Ja of the Kachin Independence Army and the new ethnic negotiating team’s second in command, said ethnic delegates would uphold the principle of “all-inclusiveness” agreed upon at the Law Khee Lar summit in Karen State last month.
Following the summit, ethnic leaders called on the government to allow all ethnic armed groups to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement, including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army—none of which have inked bilateral ceasefire agreements with the government.
On Wednesday, the KNU also issued a statement expressing concern over ongoing clashes between the Burma Army and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) along the recently opened Asia Highway in Karen State.
The KNU urged both sides to come to the negotiating table, adding that ongoing clashes could affect the nationwide ceasefire process.
“Both sides have a responsibility to halt fighting,” Naw Zipporah Sein said on Wednesday.
Hla Maung Shwe commented that the central government was addressing the issue, but did not elaborate further.