by Feng Yingqiu
YANGON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Representatives of the Myanmar government and the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of Myanmar ethnic groups, with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) as a member, started their first political talks in Chiang Mai, Thailand Wednesday in response to domestic and international peace call.
The 11-member government delegation was headed by Vice Chairman of the Central Peace Making Work Committee and Minister U Aung Min, while the 12-member UNFC delegation was headed by Naing Hong Sar and Dr. La Ja.
The two sides discussed the framework for political dialogue, six-point ethnic nationalities peace plan, mechanisms to secure local and international support for humanitarian assistance, education, health, agricultural and livestock sectors during the preparatory period and political dialogue for areas where member organizations of the UNFC are located, according to a five-point joint statement issued by the two sides.
Both side agreed to hold the next talks within two months.
The first political talks came more than two weeks after representatives of the central peace making group of the Myanmar government and the KIO resumed peace talks in China's border town of Ruili on Feb. 4, witnessed by representatives of the Kayin National Union (KNU) and the Restoration Council of Shan State Army (RCSS) as well as official from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The KNU and RCSS represent armed groups that have made peace with the government.
The Ruili talks focused on the establishment of communication channel, reduction of military tension and invitation of observers to witness the next talks which will be coordinated with the UNFC to start political dialogue before the end of this month.
The resumption of Ruili peace talks came after the government announced unilateral ceasefire with KIA, the army of KIO, on Jan. 18 to prepare for a political dialogue. The government troops stopped offensive against the area of Lajayan starting Jan.19.
Since June 2011, fighting between the government forces and the KIA had continued until the resumption of talks in Ruili.
As armed conflicts between the two sides escalated since the beginning of this year involving the government troops' air strike, the Lower House of the Parliament urged the two sides on Jan. 11 to reduce tension and resolve the issue through dialogue.
The government said that it has negotiated with the KIA for 11 times and the last talks that started on Oct. 30, 2012 with the absence of military leaders from the KIA side failed to make any progress.
After failure of the last peace talks, the KIA stepped up attacks on government forces which in return launched air strike against the KIA early this year at Point-771 Hill.
According to official death toll, 35 government forces members were killed with 190 others injured in an ambush by the KIA when the government troops sent food supplies to the area of Lajayan outpost.
Meanwhile, Myanmar said it will let in humanitarian assistance for displaced people in the conflict-torn Kachin state and make plans to reconstruct houses, reopen schools and hospitals.