Derek Mitchell, the US Ambassador to Burma met with key Karen National Union members in Pa-an (Hpa-an) earlier this month. KNU officials said a number of issues were discussed with Ambassador Mitchell, including, the current political climate, the process of the KNU and government ceasefires with ethnic armed groups and the ethnic alliances.
The KNU general secretary, Padoh Saw Kweh Htoo Win, spoke to Karen News about the meeting.
“His [Ambassador Mitchell] special interest was on our future peace building process. He is collecting opinions from all the different ethnic groups.”
Padoh Saw Kweh Htoo Win said that the discussions included an analysis of the current situation since the ceasefire between the KNU and the government and how and if the conflict in Kachin State will impact on the current peace building process.
In an official media release the US Embassy Rangoon said Ambassador Mitchell acknowledged that there lasting peace in Burma will take time to achieve after years of fighting.
“Ambassador Mitchell was encouraged by reports of positive developments in the ceasefire and peace processes in Karen and Mon States, but discussions in both States were a reminder that lasting peace and national reconciliation will take time to achieve after decades of conflict and mistrust.”
The KNU told Ambassador Mitchell that in regard to the peace building with the Burmese government, the KNU will follow its policy and will proceed with the ceasefire. The KNU will continue dialogue on political issues to find political solutions to the problems.
P’doh Saw Kweh Htoo Win pointed out that the KNU is concerned of the impact the Kachin conflict will have.
“No matter what happens we will follow our organizational plan. We worry about the effects of the continued fighting in Kachin state on the peace building process.”
Padoh Saw Kweh Htoo Win said if the KNU continues with its peace building process, “ and if the government does not stop its offensive in Kachin State we [KNU] will get a lot of criticism.
Attending the meeting with Ambassador Mitchell were the KNU Chairman, Saw Mutu Say Poe, General Secretary Padoh Saw Kweh Htoo Win, Foreign Minister Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe, Defence Minister Padoh Saw Roger Khin and Padoh Saw Hla Htun.
Ambassador Mitchell and his wife, Min, took time out of their fact-finding trip to Karen and Mon states to attend Karen New Year celebrations in Pa-an (Hpa-an).