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NMSP, KNU sit for talks following clashes over territory

Mon delegates (on right, wearing red longyis) sit opposite representatives of the KNU at the NMSP offices in Three Pagodas Pass on 13 March 2018. (PHOTO: DVB)

 

The Karen National Union (KNU) and New Mon State Party (NMSP) may be close to reconciliation after both sides sat for talks in the Mon border town of Three Pagodas Pass on Tuesday.

The talks were called following two armed clashes between the ethnic armies recently: first in Ye Township, Mon State, on 24 February; then in Ye Phyu Township, Tanintharyi Region, on 3 March.

The NMSP delegation was led by Nai Nyan Tun, the chairman of its chapter in Dawei, while the KNU team was headed by Dooplaya district chairperson Padoh Saw Shwe Maung.

“Local representatives from the areas where the clashes broke out were also present,” said NMSP spokesperson Nai Win Hla, speaking yesterday to DVB. “This meeting was held to ease the concerns of the local population. I believe that if such meetings are organised on a regular basis, we will be able to bring peace and tranquility to the region.”

The Mon army spokesman confirmed that dialogue focused on measures to resolve the conflicts over territory, and to prevent clashes from recurring.

KNU delegation leader Padoh Saw Shwe Maung played down the recent hostilities between the two old allies, who for decades fought together against the Burmese armed forces.

Speaking to DVB, he said, “These were just confrontations between lower-level units of our respective organisations. It is nothing serious. We are both signatories to the NCA [Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement] and are working together to return the situation to normal and to abide by the terms of the NCA.”

During the Three Pagodas Pass meeting, the NMSP returned weapons, including AK-47s and M-79s, which were seized during the clashes.