Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Officials of both the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Association (DKBA) are in preliminary peace talks with Burmese government officials in Bangkok and in Mawlamyine in Mon State, respectively. However, little progress has been made.
According to KNU and DKBA officials, no agreements have been reached, but both sides agreed that they will not undertake activities outside their respective control areas.
A KNU officer told Mizzima that its team met with government representatives including Rail Transportation Minister Aung Min and retired Major General Chit Than in Bangkok.
The government delegation told the KNU to contact the Karen State government, following earlier instructions issued by President Thein Sein, calling for preliminary negotiations to be held with state officials. The KNU – adhering to its previously stated policy – replied that it wanted to discuss the peace issue with Union government officials through the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of ethnic groups.
“Yes, we met. We have said we prefer to discuss the issue through the UNFC. But the government wants to meet with us just one by one,” said the KNU officer.
Minister Aung Min is often described as a flexible government official. Retired General Chin Than is a Karen affairs expert.
Observers said Aung Min attended a performance on Saturday of some members of the Thee Lay Thee traditional dance troupe, who recently returned from exile. They also said that during his visit to Bangkok, he was with various businessmen, and it may have been related to the Dawei (Tavoy) Development Project in Dawei, Tanintharyi Region, which is carried out by the Italian-Thai Company. In mid-September, the KNU objected to the construction of the Dawei-Kanchanaburi Express Road in the Dawei Development Project, saying it harmed the environment.
In late September, a delegation led by Colonel Aung Lwin, the Karen State minister for security and border affairs, met with KNU officials on the Thai-Burmese border to offer to hold peace talks, but the KNU again replied that it wanted peace discussions with the central government.
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