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Burma's Karen Delegation Meets Aung San Suu Kyi

Karen National Union (KNU) General Secretary Zipporah Sein (R) speaks to reporters after meeting with Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (front L) at Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon, April 8, 2012.
Karen National Union (KNU) General Secretary Zipporah Sein (R) speaks to reporters after meeting with Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (front L) at Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon, April 8, 2012.

The leaders of Burma's longest-running insurgent movement met Sunday with democracy leader and newly elected parliament member Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon.

The Karen National Union delegation, led by General Secretary Zipporah Sein, said in a statement that they discussed in detail a cease-fire that was negotiated last week with the government.  Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters that a cease-fire is just the first step on the road to peace.

"As we all know, a cease-fire is just the first step," she said. "We can't have peace without cease-fire. So we are on the first step now, we all need to wait for this step to be concrete, after that we will go for the next step."

Zipporah Sein said the two sides also discussed the needs of other ethnic groups.

"Today we, the Karen National Union, discussed our plan for progressing the development of peace in the country," she said. "We discussed what we need, how we can achieve a real cease-fire process, not just for the Karen but for the other ethnic groups."

The meeting took place a day after the KNU delegation met with President Thein Sein in the administrative capital of Naypytaw.  KNU officials said that the president told them the government is making its best efforts to remove the group from its list of outlawed organizations as soon as possible.

The talks, which lasted more than an hour, marked the first time the president had talked with rebel leaders since he issued a call for dialogue in August.

The KNU delegation began their diplomatic mission Friday by meeting with a 19-member government peace delegation in Rangoon.  The KNU said the two sides signed a 13-point agreement on how to move a peace process forward.

The KNU's armed wing has been waging war against Burmese authorities since 1949.  Western nations have demanded peace with rebel groups as a condition for easing political and economic sanctions against the Southeast Asian country.

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