By AFP & FRONTIER
NAY PYI TAW — State Counsellor Daw Aung Suu Kyi has held “very positive” talks with one of nation’s biggest armed ethnic groups and one of its smallest, as preparations continue for the Panglong 21st century peace conference, reports said last week.
The talks between Suu Kyi and leaders of the United Wa State Army, that is estimated to have up to 25,000 troops, and the National Democratic Alliance Army, took place in Nay Pyi Taw on July 29.
The “very positive discussions” were an “important first step” towards building trust ahead of the peace conference, said President’s Office spokesperson, U Zaw Htay.
The UWSA and the NDAA “support the 21st century Panglong conference and they will try to participate,” Zaw Htay said.
The talks with Suu Kyi, who chairs the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre, formerly the Myanmar Peace Center, and the government’s Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, came amid efforts to ensure that Panglong21 is inclusive.
The UWSA, and the NDAA, that is estimated to have more than 3,000 troops and is also known as the Mongla Army, were not among the signatories of the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed by eight armed groups last October.
The UWSA and the NDAA leaders also met separately with Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw on July 29.
The meetings in the capital came as a summit of armed ethnic groups was taking place at Mai Ja Yang, a town in Kachin State on the border with China in territory controlled by Kachin Independence Army.
The summit, attended by the representatives of 17 armed groups, including the eight that signed the NCA last year, is aimed at producing agreement on plans for a future federal union ahead of Panglong21.
The four-day summit was due to end on July 29 but was reported to have been extended by a day.
Suu Kyi wants to hold the Panglong21 conference by the end of the month.
The conference is named after Panglong, the town in Shan State where Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San, and Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders agreed a formula for federalism on February 12, 1947.