Burma's opposition leader ready to help end conflicts

 

Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has offered to help negotiate an end to conflicts between the government and ethnic minority groups, after coming under pressure to speak out about alleged government abuses against the Kachin minority.

Ms Suu Kyi said she would take part in peace talks if the parties involved asked her to do so.

“I have been criticised by some people for not taking part in peace talks regarding the Kachin conflict. I have always said I am willing to take part in the peace process if the concerned parties wanted me to,” she said.

President Thein Sein has reached ceasefire agreements with most of the major ethnic groups but is still engaged in a bitter struggle with the Kachin in northern Burma.

A ceasefire that held for nearly two decades broke down in June 2011 after the Kachin refused to abandon a strategic base near a hydro-power plant that is a joint venture with a Chinese company. Clashes escalated after the government began using fighter planes and helicopter gunships in attacks starting on Christmas Day.

Earlier this month, the government and the Kachin agreed to de-escalate military tensions, open lines of communication and invite observers to their next meeting before the end of this month.

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