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Burma must be flexible to achieve peace in Kachin State

Peace talks between Unio n Level Peace Making Committee and KIO was held at Shwelion 4 February (Monday), the state-run New Light of Myanmar said today.

The meeting was attended by a six-member team led by Union Ministers Aung Min and Ohn Myint from Union Level Peace-Making Committee along with a five-member team led by Salang Kaba Sumlut Gam, head of Education department and KIA's vice chief of staff General Sumlut Gum Maw from KIO.

In addition, also present at the meeting were a two-member team led by Ambassador Mr Luo Zhaohui from Foreign Affairs Ministry of the People's Republic of China, KNU President General Mutu Say Poe and General Secretary Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win,three led by Brig-Gen Sai Lu of RCSS/SSA, U Han Nyaung Wai and Victor Biak Lian. Besides, Hla Maung Shwe and Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing of Myanmar Egress and Min Zaw Oo of Myanmar Peace Center were there at the meeting.

The meeting was arranged and facilitated by Chinese government. Chinese government officials were present at the talks between the two sides, quoting a local source the Kachinland News said.

According to the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, both sides issued a five-point joint statement (dated 4 February, 2013) at the meeting. The following is the English version of the joint-statement translated by the NLM newspaper.

1. Talks between a delegation led by Vice-Chairman of Union Level Peace-Making Committee Union Minister U Aung Min and KIO negotiation team, was held in Shweli of Yunnan Province of the People's Republic of China from 9 am to 16:15 pm today.

2. Ambassador Mr Luo Zhaohui of Foreign Affairs Ministry of the PRC, KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Sae Poe, General Secretary Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win and one member, Brig-Gen Sai Lu of RCSS/SSA and two members, U Han Nyaung Wai and U Victor Biak Lian, have attended the talks as witnesses.

3. Talks focused on establishing communication channels, reducing military tension, preparing for next talks and the invitation of observers and organizations as witnesses in the next meeting.

4. KIO has agreed to hold the next talks before the end of February after making coordination with UNFC and to continue holding the political talks between the government and KIO.

5. Both sides have agreed to continue to hold talks for emergence of a surveillance system in the conflict-affected areas for achieving ceasefire swiftly between the government and KIO.

Last round of peace talks on 30 October 2012 between government of Burma and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) reached nowhere to end existing hostility, according to media reports.

The talks which took place at Ruili (Shweli), a town on Sino-Burma border, on October 30 ended earlier than estimated, since Brig Gen Gun Maw and any other senior leaders from the KIO had not presented as the government armed forces launched a forceful offensive concurrently, Kachin News Group (KNG) said.

During the talks, the government peace-mission led by President's Office Minister Aung Min had reiterated the unacceptable proposal that mentioned further political talks take place in parliament under the framework of the 2008 military-made constitution.

The fighting broke out in June 2011 since the government's armed forces violated the 1994 ceasefire agreement. To reinstate stability, the KIO has over and over again declared that it wants to talk with the government by means of the Panglong Agreement as a reference. But, the government has turned a deaf ear to KIO's offer so far.

In January, the KIO released an official statement towards the entire people of Burma, which reiterated the group's desire for a truly democratic and federal Burma. The statement says: "The root cause of the war is political.   In order to end the war and bring about peace these problems must be solved by political means."

The statement added that the KIO submitted numerous proposals during the National Convention, in order to facilitate ethnic nationalities to live equally with their Burmese citizens.   Eventually, all proposals submitted by the KIO during the national convention were rejected by the military senior leaders who were in charge of the process. The statement highlights that the KIO will participate in negotiations with the government in order to achieve equal rights and self-determination for the Kachin population.

That's why several ethnic armed groups including the KIA have already decided to defend their basic rights by holding their guns. If the President Thein Sein government failed to solve out this delicate political question by means of political dialogue, a new all-out civil war may not be avoided.

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