Govt, KIO to Meet Again Soon

By Nyein Nyein 4 March 2013

The Burmese government’s Peace Team and the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) will meet in the second week of March for further talks, according to peace brokers involved in ongoing efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict in Kachin State.

This would be the second round of talks so far this year, following a Feb. 4 meeting in the Chinese town of Ruili. A planned meeting in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, which was expected to take place before the end of February, did not materialize.

The government’s chief negotiator, President’s Office Minister Aung Min, told his peace working group during a meeting at the Myanmar Peace Center in Rangoon that the meeting would come sometime after March 7, according to Hla Maung Shwe, a member of the government’s negotiating team.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy by phone on Monday, Hla Maung Shwe said he would not comment on the venue or exact date of the meeting or who would attend it, as these details were still being discussed.

“All the important matters are being directly discussed between Minister Aung Min and the KIO leaders,” he said, adding that communication between the two sides has improved since last month’s meeting.

After the meeting in February, both sides released a joint statement in which they agreed to hold a political dialogue, deescalate military tensions, open lines of communication and invite observers to attend their next meeting.

Nshang San Awng, a local peace mediator from the Peace-talk Creation Group, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that representatives from both sides proposed to meet again in Ruili next week. The focus will be on laying the groundwork for further talks, he said.

The next round of talks will include more participants than last month’s meeting, he said, adding that it would also be an important step toward meeting in Burma.

Aung Min, who met with the United Nationalities Federal Council—an alliance of 11 ethnic armed groups—in Chiang Mai on Feb. 20, said at the time that fighting between the KIO’s military wing and government forces had decreased, and that the two sides would meet again soon.