[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Myanmar holds peace talks with ethnic groups

Government officials meet minority rebel groups in Thailand to try to resolve issues including the Kachin conflict.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2013 21:38

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.

279

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.