Govt Offers KIO New Venue for Peace Talks

By The Irrawaddy 12 October 2012

The Burmese government has proposed a new venue for peace talks with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), its second offer in a month. The KIO rejected the government negotiating team’s last proposal to hold peace talks in Naypyidaw, saying that it would be inappropriate given that fighting between the sides was ongoing so close to the Kachin headquarters at Laiza.

Sources who attended previous talks said a letter of invitation was sent on Oct. 10 inviting the KIO leaders to reconvene peace negotiations at a venue in either Ruili or Muse, both of which are Sino-Burmese border towns.

Hla Maung Shwe, one of the brokers for the government’s Peace Committee, told The Irrawaddy on Friday: “This is the proposition for the fourth round of talks. Neither side could previously agree on a suitable venue for various reasons, despite the fact they have already met three times.”

No exact dates or times were proposed, he added.

Naypyidaw’s chief negotiator Aung Min last met with Kachin representatives in Mai Ja Yan on June 20. Following that meeting, both sides said they had agreed to further negotiations aimed at resolving tensions between troops at the front lines.

Hostilities broke out between government troops and the KIO in June last year, ending a 17-year ceasefire. According to the KIO, 105 acts of engagement occurred between the armies in September alone.

Aung Min’s negotiation team has reached ceasefire agreements with several other ethnic militias in recent times, including groups in Karen, Shan, Mon, Karenni and Chin states.

Irrawaddy reporter Than Htike Oo contributes to this report.