The Irrawaddy

State Counselor Will Meet Northeastern Armed Group Delegation: Spokesperson

Zhao Guo An takes questions after the meeting on Thursday. (Photo: Nyein Nyein / The Irrawaddy)

NAYPYIDAW – The government peace commission’s closed-door meeting in Naypyidaw with representatives of seven northeastern armed groups on Thursday morning was just a “social” event, according to the commission’s Dr. Tin Myo Win.

He told the reporters after the meeting that it was held in order to build trust.

After peace brokering by a Chinese special envoy between the non-state armed groups and the government, the ethnic delegation arrived in the Burmese capital on Tuesday.

The northern delegation joined the opening of the second session of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference and dinner hosted by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as “special guests” on Wednesday.

China’s ambassador to Burma Hong Liang also attended Thursday’s meeting between the government’s peace negotiation team and the northern groups.

“We will meet the State Counselor on Friday,” said the United Wa State Army’s (UWSA) spokesperson Zhao Guo An, who expressed the UWSA’s gratitude to China and to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and described the meeting as an opportunity to build trust.

Through a translator, Zhao Guo An said that he “did not have any detailed discussion” in Thursday’s closed-door meeting.

The seven-member delegation representing armed organizations based in northeastern Burma is led by the UWSA vice chairman Bao Yuri. Also participating is the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) vice chairman N’Ban La, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) secretary U Kyi Myint, the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA-S) vice chairman Sao Khun Sai, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) vice chairman Tar Jok Jar, the Arakan Army (AA) deputy chief-of-staff Dr. Nyo Tun Aung, and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) official Phone Win Naing.
They had said they would only meet with the government for peace talks as a coalition under its team known as the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC).

They said that the FPNCC’s general principles and specific propositions concerning political negotiations was agreed upon during their last meeting on April 19 in Panghsang, and was shared with the government. Copies were distributed to the media on Thursday.

The State Counselor will meet the seven groups separately. The KIA, UWSA, SSPP and NDAA will be invited to one meeting and she will meet the TNLA, AA and MNDAA in another, said government spokesperson U Zaw Htay at the peace conference’s daily press briefing on Thursday. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will also reportedly host a private lunch for the KIA’s N’Ban La and his wife.