CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Three ethnic armed groups based in northeast Myanmar said they were willing to stop fighting and enter formal negotiations after meeting with members of the government’s Peace Commission on Wednesday in China’s Yunnan Province.
The military has been reluctant to enter formal peace talks with the three groups — the Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA) — unless they vow to give up their armed struggle.
China has been brokering informal talks between the Peace Commission and the three groups — all part of Myanmar’s seven-member Northern Alliance — since last year, with monthly meetings since August.
“We desire to solve the ongoing war, conflict and political problems through negotiations…. We desire to take a political approach instead of a military approach and will first stop military actions in order to be able to achieve peace,” the three groups said in a joint statement after Wednesday’s meeting.
They said they hoped the military “would also make an effort to end the fighting.”
The Peace Commission welcomed the news
“Negotiations will continue with the TNLA, AA and MNDAA in order to reach bilateral ceasefire agreements and have political discussions with them,” it said in a statement of its own on Wednesday.
Commission Secretary U Khin Zaw Oo took to Facebook to express his satisfaction with their efforts since 2016 and to thank their partners.
“Our journey is not yet within reach but it is not too far,” he said in a post to his page.
The military has been in recent clashes with the AA in northern Rakhine State and with the TNLA in northern Shan State, according to the two armed groups.