Flying in from Norway two days after the United Ntionalities Federal Council (UNFC) declaration it was ready to meet him, Naypyitaw chief negotiator U Aung Min met only one of its members, Karenni National Progress Party (KNPP) on Saturday, 21 April.
He had also missed seeing the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) with which he had made his first break in December. “But he had called us from the airport to say hello and that he was looking forward to meeting us again next month,” said the SSA’s Brig-Gen Pawng Kherh, who had headed the second delegation on 12 January to hold the Union Level talks in Taunggyi.
U Aung Min, who was just stopping over in Thailand before returning to Naypyitaw from his Norwegian trip, also talked to the PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO), another UNFC member yesterday. “We will be meeting in May,” said PNLO General Secretary Khun Myint Tun. “And if all goes well, we’ll be signing a ceasefire agreement.”
However, his inability to meet the UNFC that had, on 19 April, announced its readiness to parley with him had surprised many Burma watchers in Chiangmai. “He had asked KNPP vice president Abel Tweed, who is also UNFC vice president, whether it would be better to meet it after a ceasefire agreement with the KIO (Kachin Independence Organization with which the Burma Army is still at a shooting war) has been concluded,” said Hkun Okker, PNLO president and UNFC Joint Secretary # 2. “Abel Tweed told him, on the contrary, a successful meeting with UNFC could lead to a quicker ceasefire agreement with the KIO.”
U Aung Min, according to Hkun Okker, who met him in Bangkok on 23 December 2011, had promised to meet the UNFC anytime it was ready.
A Thai Burma watcher told SHAN that there are at least 3 reasons, if the reports were correct, why he was unable to meet the UNFC:
- It had taken almost 4 months before the alliance could announce its readiness
- U Aung Min might have been ordered by the bosses to toe the original Naypyitaw line: to meet group wise and not collective wise
- One yet-to-be-confirmed report says the two Burmese peace negotiating teams, one led by U Aung Thaung and the other by U Aung Min, will be merged together soon
On the other hand, Nyo Ohn Myint, U Aung Min’s liaison living in Chiangmai, said the minister would be required to report back to the President first before any action regarding the UNFC could be taken.
So far the two teams have successfully held talks with 12 armed movements, including Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) on 5 April and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) S.S. Khaplang faction on 9 April.
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