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Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Burma’s armed forces, said the door is still open for ethnic armed groups that didn’t sign last year’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
The top general made the remark at a meeting in Naypyidaw on Wednesday with leaders of the eight NCA signatory armed groups, held to discuss upcoming negotiations aimed at ending Burma’s ethnic conflicts.
“The Tatmadaw [armed forces] commander-in-chief said the armed forces welcome the plan for political dialogue based on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, and that the door is kept opened for organisations that have not signed the NCA,” said Than Khe, chairman of the All-Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF).
The armed groups at the meeting stressed the need for inclusiveness in the political dialogue, he said.
According to Hla Maung Shwe, secretary of the Panglong Conference preparatory sub-committee 2, government peace negotiators were set to meet with some non-NCA signatory groups, including the ethnic Naga-based National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang, in the near future.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Burma’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and NCA armed group leaders agreed in principle to launch comprehensive peace negotiations — dubbed the 21st Century Panglong Conference — no later than the last week of August.
Meanwhile, ethnic armed groups are also organising a conference inclusive of all NCA signatory and non-signatory groups in Maijayang, a town in northern Burma’s Kachin State under the control of the Kachin Independence Army.
According to sources involved in planning for the meeting, participants will discuss the creation of a federal union as well as the need to bring groups excluded from last year’s peace negotiations into any future talks with the government.
The Arakan Army, the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army and the Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army were all kept out of talks leading up to the NCA by Burma’s military.