Myanmar holds peace talks with ethnic groups

Government officials meet minority rebel groups in Thailand to try to resolve issues including the Kachin conflict.

    Myanmar's government has held peace talks with a federation of ethnic groups to try to resolve issues including the conflict in the northern state of Kachin.

    The United Nationalities Federal Council, which was formed by about a dozen ethnic minority groups including the Kachin, met government officials in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on Wednesday.

    In a brief statement afterwards, they said the "frank and friendly" talks aimed to map out a framework and timeframe for political dialogue, and pledged to hold another round of discussions within two months.

    However, Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Chiang Mai, said "Kachin officials have been quietly critical of this meeting, dismissing it as a mere meet-and-greet situation - so much so that they haven't sent any senior representatives from Kachin State."

    Myanmar's quasi-civilian government has reached tentative ceasefires with a number of ethnic rebel groups since taking power in early 2011. But several rounds of talks with the Kachin rebels have failed to reach a breakthrough.

    The government held fresh talks with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) in China earlier this month, with both sides agreeing to try to reduce military tensions and continue dialogue.

    The Kachin, who are fighting for greater autonomy, say any negotiations should also address their demands for more political rights.

    Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Kachin state since June 2011, when a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the KIO's armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army, broke down.

    Fighting escalated in December, and the Myanmar military has used air strikes against the rebels.

    Last month the government announced a unilateral halt to its offensive but the Kachin have accused the military of flouting the ceasefire.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Why some African Americans are moving to Africa

    Escaping systemic racism: Why I quit New York for Accra

    African-Americans are returning to the lands of their ancestors as life becomes precarious and dangerous in the USA.

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    No country in the world recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    North Korea's nuclear weapons: Here is what we know

    North Korea's nuclear weapons