Suu Kyi meets Karen rebels | News | DW | 08.04.2012
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Suu Kyi meets Karen rebels

The Myanmar leader of the opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, has held talks with a delegation from the Karen ethnic minority. The meeting is part of a drive to resolve the country's many ethnic conflicts.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday met with Karen ethnic minority rebels, a day after they held talks with reformist President Thein Sein.

Suu Kyi, who won her first-ever seat in parliament in April 1 by-elections, spoke with delegates from the Karen National Union (KNU) for two hours. It was her first important political act since being elected to public office.

After two hours of talks, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said: "We share the same vision for achieving true peace."

Calling the meeting a "significant event," Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), added: "As the NLD's goal is to have true democratic unity, we believe all ethnicities should be included in this process together."

Long struggle

Myanmar's President Thein Sein shakes hands with peace group Karen National Union

The Karen delegation held talks with President Thein Stein (2nd from left) on Saturday

The Karen rebels have waged a 64-year-old struggle against the central government to gain self-rule. Myanmar, formerly called Burma, considers the group to be an illegal organization. Tens of thousands of Karens have been displaced by fighting over the past two decades.

In January, the KNU signed a pact with the new Myanmar government, and on Saturday, a 13-point deal was negotiated including an agreement to make plans for the resettlement of internal refugees and demining the Karen State.

The Karen, one of at least 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar, make up about seven percent of its population.

Myanmarhas seen several ethnic conflicts since it gained independence in 1948. The former military government was condemned from many quarters because of the brutal treatment meted out to ethnic minorities, who together make up more than 30 per cent of the country's population.

tj/acb (AFP, dpa)