KNU and Govt Plan to Resume Formal Peace Talks
The Irrawaddy

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Myanmar government peace negotiators and the Karen National Union (KNU) have vowed to resume formal peace talks as quickly as possible, after they were postponed late last month.

The KNU decided to pause formal peace talks in late October citing the need for further internal discussions in order to have meaningful participation in the peace process because of differences between their opinions and those of the government. The public and some stakeholders were worried that the halt in talks could trigger a restart of conflict in the region.

Some members of the KNU are concerned that the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) has drifted from its original purpose, which includes ensuring equality, self-determination in building a democratic federal union and effectively implementing the issues agreed in the NCA text.

The formal peace talks stalled until the KNU—within its own organization—agreed to return to the formal mechanism, but they decided last week to keep an informal channel open for negotiations.

Government spokesman U Zaw Hay, who is also director general of the State Counselor’s Office, said both sides would share the topics raised in their informal discussions with their superior leaders and that he hopes that formal peace talks can resume “in two or three months, or sooner than that.”

“Although we have this temporary suspension, we will try to be back on track with the normal peace talk mechanism as soon as possible,” he told reporters after talks with the KNU on Saturday afternoon.

The informal discussion with the KNU helped “reduce such concerns [of the public],” U Zaw Htay said, because both the negotiators of the government and the KNU share the same views on continuing to implement peace through the NCA.

U Zaw Htay added, as both sides respect the NCA, and they do not want it to drift, they agreed to try to have thorough mutual understanding for a successful NCA process.