Peace talks between Burmese officials and Kachin Independence Organization, facilitated by the Chinese government, were held in Shweli, China Monday.

Kachin Independent Army (KIA) soldiers watch a TV program at a restaurant in the town of Laiza, in northern Myanmar's Kachin-controlled region. Photo: AP

According to the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, both sides issued a five-point joint statement (dated 4 February, 2013) at the meeting. The following is the English version of the joint-statement translated by the NLM newspaper.

1. Talks between a delegation led by Vice-Chairman of Union Level Peace-Making Committee Union Minister U Aung Min and KIO negotiation team, was held in Shweli of Yunnan Province of the People’s Republic of China from 9 am to 16:15 pm today.

2. Ambassador Mr Luo Zhaohui of Foreign Affairs Ministry of the PRC, KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Sae Poe, General Secretary Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win and one member, Brig-Gen Sai Lu of RCSS/SSA and two members, U Han Nyaung Wai and U Victor Biak Lian, have attended the talks as witnesses.

3. Talks focused on establishing communication channels, reducing military tension, preparing for next talks and the invitation of observers and organizations as witnesses in the next meeting.

4. KIO has agreed to hold the next talks before the end of February after making coordination with UNFC and to continue holding the political talks between the government and KIO.

5. Both sides have agreed to continue to hold talks for emergence of a surveillance system in the conflict-affected areas for achieving ceasefire swiftly between the government and KIO.

The last round of peace talks on 30 October 2012 between government of Burma and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) failed to bring peace in the troubled province.

The talks which took place at Ruili (Shweli), a town on Sino-Burma border, on October 30 ended earlier than estimated, since Brig Gen Gun Maw and any other senior leaders from the KIO did not attend as government armed forces launched a forceful offensive  at the time, Kachin News Group (KNG) said.

During the talks, the government peace-mission led by President’s Office Minister Aung Min had reiterated the unacceptable proposal that mentioned further political talks take place in parliament under the framework of the 2008 military-made constitution.

The fighting broke out in June 2011 after the government’s armed forces violated the 1994 ceasefire agreement. To reinstate stability, the KIO has repeatedly declared that it wants to talk with the government under the framework of the Panglong Agreement. But the government has turned a deaf ear to KIO’s offer so far.

In January, the KIO released an official statement towards the entire people of Burma, which reiterated the group’s desire for a truly democratic and federal Burma. The statement says: “The root cause of the war is political.  In order to end the war and bring about peace these problems must be solved by political means.”

The statement added that the KIO submitted numerous proposals during the National Convention, so ethnic nationalities can live equally with their Burmese citizens. Eventually, all proposals submitted by the KIO during the national convention were rejected by the military senior leaders who were in charge of the process. The statement highlights that the KIO will participate in negotiations with the government in order to achieve equal rights and self-determination for the Kachin population.

That’s why several ethnic armed groups including the KIA have decided to defend their basic rights by holding  on to their guns. If President Thein Sein’s government fails to solve this through political dialogue, a new all-out civil war may not be avoided.