The government is ready to negotiate with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and is willing to listen to their demands through a political dialogue, a top government official told The Myanmar Times.
“We have offered to listen [to the KIO]. We are ready to speak at once when they accept,” said the government’s chief negotiator, Union Minister U Aung Min.
A KIO official confirmed that they received a written request from the government but declined to elaborate further, Chiang Mai-based news group The Irrawaddy reported on December 20.
A government peace negotiation team and representatives from the KIO met at the Sino-Burmese border town of Ruili on October 30, where U Aung Min promised a political dialogue in the near future. Although the government has indicated a preference for Bhamo or Muse as the location for negotiations, they said the KIO can choose.
“[The government] is ready to agree to whatever the KIO asks. If they want to talk political issues, we will talk political issues. If they want to talk economic issues, we’ll talk economic issues. If they want to talk social issues, we’ll talk social issues. We’re ready to agree to as much as we can so long as it’s provided for by the framework of the law. We expect we can talk [this month],” U Aung Min said.
James Lun Dau, deputy chief of foreign affairs for the KIO, has doubts that the new peace talks offered by the government would help put an end to the year-and-a-half-long conflict, as previous dialogues have not yielded any lasting agreements, The Irrawaddy reported him as saying on December 20.
U Aung Min said that he is pleased with the government’s reconciliation measures with armed ethnic groups in 2012, and anticipates positive results in 2013.
“I expect that 2013 will be the ‘Golden Year’ for Myanmar. Now, we have good relations with all ethnic groups except for the Kachin and [Kachin] opposition parties. People are now participating in building a democratic state and cooperating with the government to do so. Therefore, it is not impossible to establish peace and develop democratically,” U Aung Min said.
He said he was not able to comment further regarding the current conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and KIO armed groups.
“I haven’t been to [Kachin State]. I will comment later when I come back,” he said.
The KIA was founded in 1961 as a government opposition group. They signed a cease-fire agreement in 1994 under the military government, but the agreement was reneged in June 2011. Since then, thousands of skirmishes have erupted between the Tatmadaw and the KIA.
The KIA has not signed any agreements with the new government, and heavy fighting has accelerated between the two sides since June 2011.