The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) met with representatives of the Burma government’s peace committee on the China Burma border early this week.
The government’s Union Peace Making Committee held preliminary ‘peace talks’ with the KIO in Ruili, Yunnan Province, China on Monday.
The Karen National Union’s chairman General Saw Mutu Say Poe and General-Secretary Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win were invited to attend the meeting as observers. This is the first time in ‘peacetalks’ between the government and the Kachin that KNU observers have been invited.
The KNU Joint Secretary (2) Padoh Mahn Mahn speaking on the Thai Burma border, General Mutu Say Poe and Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win attended the peace talks as a member of the ethnic alliance – the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC).
Speaking to Karen News, Padoh Mahn Mahn said.
“All of the UNFC’s armed group members have responsibilities to take part in the peace building process. The KIO requested that members of the ethnic armed groups to be observers at their peace talks – that’s why the KNU attends the meeting.”
Other witnesses attended at the peace talks included Luo Zhaohui of China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, General Sai Lu of the RCSS/Shan State Army, U Harn Yawghwe from the Euro-Burma office in Brussels and U Victor Biak Lian of the Chin National Front.
The ‘preliminary peace talks’ between the government and the Kachin included the KIO’s Swong Lut Gum, the Deputy Chief-of -Staff General Gum Maw and delegates from the Government’s Peace Making Committee led by its vice-chairperson Minister U Aung Min.
The Burma government and the KIO released a statement after the peace talks that said that further discussions will be held before the end of February and after the KIO meet with the UNFC to strengthen its ceasefire agreement.
Fighting broke out in June 2011 after the KIO’s 17-year ceasefire with the government collapse and in recent months the violence escalated when the government’s military used fighter jets and helicopters to bomb Kachin territory.