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Iran Press TV

Myanmar to resume peace talks with rebels in May

Iran Press TV

Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:10PM

The government of Myanmar says it will go to peace talks with ethnic groups next month in a fresh attempt to end decades of war in the country.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said on Tuesday that the talks would begin on May 24 and would last five days.

The first round of the so-called "21st Century Panglong" talks were held last year although the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate who came to power a year ago on promises of establishing peace in Myanmar, has made little progress in sealing a permanent deal with rebels.

A surge in fighting over the past months caused the government to push back the talks from February. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in renewed clashes between the army and insurgents on Myanmar's eastern borders.

Many blame Suu Kyi for intensified clashes and say she has been more supportive of the army and its traditional base of power in Myanmar. They are against a partial ceasefire deal first touted by the former military-backed government in 2015, which requires ethnic groups to lay down their arms before talks. The rebels are more in favor of a federal power arrangement.

"If we can lay out the basic agreement on a federal system, I can say it would help a lot," said Khun Okka, an ethnic negotiator, adding that the talks would be a major opportunity to introduce the issue of federal system and how it could look like in the future.

Some groups have even called for international mediation, saying the army cannot be part of a general agreement as it continues to target minorities with impunity.

Daung Khar, a spokesman for the China-backed United Wa State Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), said Suu Kyi's efforts for peace would be lost "as long as the intentional attacks to the ethnic groups are still going on."

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