MAI JA YANG, Burma — The government of Burma agreed that it will talk with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) this week in neighboring China, after the two sides could not agree on a location to meet last month.
KIO officials from the Laiza headquarters confirmed to the Kachin News Group a government delegation led by U Aung Thaung and a nine-member KIO delegation led by Sumlut Gam will meet on Thursday in Ruili, also known as Shweli, in China’s southwest Yunnan Province.
The talks come a week after President Thein Sein, a former military officer, gave his speech to the country on the ongoing democratic reforms and ethnic issues.
The major political differences between the central government and the KIO are expected to be addressed during the Ruili talks, KIO officials said.
Dr. Lahkyen La Ja, General Secretary of the KIO spoke out at the Feb. 28 press conference of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, saying another ceasefire is not the solution but rather withdrawal of government troops from KIO territories and a political dialogue under international mediation.
President Thein Sein has been offering the KIO political talks on the basis of the pro-army 2008 constitution since his government took office in March of last year. However, the KIO rejects any talks on the basis of the 2008 constitution because it will not solve the root cause of the political issues between the two sides.
The KIO says it will talk to the government on the basis of Panglong Treaty, where Burman leader, General Aung San, the father of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic Kachin, Chin and Shan leaders agreed to establish a multiethnic union.
In his speech on March 1, the president did not mention the Panglong agreement but called for national solidarity among ethnic nationalities.
Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy party took her campaign for the upcoming parliamentary by-election to Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, on February 24, and said the country’s political problems must be solved on the basis of the spirit of Panglong.
Government troops and Kachin forces have clashed more than 90 times since the two delegations met in Ruili in mid-January, according to Lah Nan, Deputy General Secretary No. 2 of the KIO.
That, despite the fact that during the meeting the two parties agreed to control their troops in frontlines while seeking a genuine political dialogue.