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Myanmar gov't, ethnic groups set to resume ceasefire talks in Yangon

by Feng Yingqiu

YANGON, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Negotiators of Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups have been set to resume their formal talks at the Myanmar Peace Center in Yangon next Wednesday on seeking formal signing of a draft nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA).

The two-day fresh talks will be a follow-up of an informal one held in Chiangmai on July 2-3 between the government's Myanmar Peace Center and ethnic armed organization's senior delegation.

The 8th round of ceasefire talks between the government's Union Peace-Making Work Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed group's senior delegation is expected to focus on finalization of the NCA, all-inclusive in the signing, the role of the signatories and matter of international witnesses as outlined in the Chiangmai talks.

In the Chiangmai talks, the government side proposed signing of the NCA with 15 armed groups first and the others to be followed later.

In the upcoming Wednesday's resumed talks, the government delegation will be led by its Vice Chairman and Minister at the President's Office U Aung Min, while the EAO's senior delegation be headed by Naw Zipporah Sein, Vice Chairman of Karen National Union (KNU).

Invitations are being extended to the United Nations Special Envoy and the Special Envoy of China on Asian Affairs to attend the resumed talks as observers.

Government negotiator of the Myanmar Peace Center U Hla Maung Shwe disclosed that there will be negotiation also on a set of amendment to the draft NCA by the ethnic side.

The 15-member ethnic new negotiator was formed at the last ethnic summit conference in Law Khee Lar, Kayin state, held on June 9 and was assigned to further deal with the government.

That ethnic summit rejected the signing of the NCA until further amendment, insisting that all armed groups be included in the signing process.

The draft NCA was preliminarily signed between the government's Union Peace-Making Work Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic groups' Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) at the end of March after conclusion of more than one year's negotiation on the NCA.

The government on its part has indicated readiness to complete the formal signing over the draft NCA as soon as possible once it is adopted by top leadership of the ethnic side.

According to the draft NCA, the formal NCA signing by leaders of both sides is to be further forwarded to the parliament for approval and a framework for political dialogue is also to be drawn within two months with the dialogue to take place within three months.

The peace process began in November 2013 when UPWC and NCCT met in Myitgyina, Kachin state's capital, for the very first time for the nationwide ceasefire talks, while the last 7th round of talks took place in Yangon in March.

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