The Irrawaddy

More Informal Talks Scheduled In Lead-up to National Peace Conference

YANGON — Ethnic armed groups that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will hold more informal talks with the government and military later this week on political and security issues in preparation for the third session of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference.

The delegates are scheduled to meet in Naypyitaw on Friday and Saturday, said Pa-O National Liberation Organization patron Colonel Khun Okkar.

An earlier round of informal talks took place on April 20-21.

“We will have informal talks to smooth the path to make official decisions,” Col. Khun Okkar told The Irrawaddy.

The NCA signatories will each send two groups of delegates to discuss political and security issues separately.

“The government is working to hold a UPDJC [Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee] secretarial meeting and work committee meetings in the third week of May in order to hold the [21st Century Panglong] conference by the end of this month,” said U Hla Maung Shwe, a member on the UPDJC’s secretarial board.

“We hope the coming informal talks will pave the way for peace, which is what all citizens desire,” said Col. Khun Okkar.

The results will be discussed at the 21st Century Panglong, which is slated to be held by the end of May in Naypyitaw.

The informal talks are expected to focus on setting a precise date for the peace conference and on obstacles to holding political dialogues in Shan and Rakhine states, a government official said on condition of anonymity. The official said they may also address security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of rebel soldiers.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.