Govt Peace Negotiator to Meet KNPP

By Saw Yan Naing 20 April 2012

Aung Min, one of the Burmese government’s chief peace negotiators, plans to meet with leaders of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) in northern Thailand on Saturday, sources from the ethnic armed group said.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Hong Son on the same day that Aung Min, who is also Burma’s railways minister, is expected to return from a trip to Norway and Switzerland that began on Tuesday.

Khu Oo Reh, the KNPP’s secretary 1, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the meeting will be in preparation for union-level talks expected to take place in the near future.

“The meeting is to strengthen our relationship. We are going to raise a number of issues that we want to discuss in detail during the upcoming union-level peace talks,” said Khu Oo Reh.

He added that Gen Bee Htoo, the KNPP’s army chief, and several members of the group’s executive committee, will also be involved in the meeting with the Burmese minister.

Aung Min first met with the KNPP in early February in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, where the two sides discussed the terms of a bilateral ceasefire agreement. These included allowing the  KNPP to open liaison offices, giving the group free movement in Burma, and rehabilitating internally displaced persons in Karenni State.

Further talks were held in March in the state capital, Loikaw.

Meanwhile, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of ethnic armed groups, held a press conference on Thursday to call on the Aung Min-led government peace team to hold multilateral talks as soon as possible.

Nyo Ohn Myint, a peace broker who is close to Aung Min’s negotiation team, said the government is open to such talks, but is now focusing its energies on bilateral talks.

So far, the government has reached ceasefire agreements with Wa, Karen, Shan, Chin, Mon and Karenni armed groups. However, it has yet to end fighting with the Kachin Independence Army,   Burma’s second largest ethnic armed group.

During his trip to Norway, Aung Min briefed government ministers on his efforts to negotiate an end to decades of ethnic conflict in Burma. The Norwegian foreign and development ministers pledged to support Burma’s domestic peace process and assist refugees affected by the country’s civil wars.