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Myanmar to Open More Inclusive Peace Talks

FILE - Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, center, attends a peace discussion with ethnic representatives during Union Day celebrations in Panglong, Myanmar, Feb. 12, 2017.

Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will open a new round of peace talks Wednesday that will include three previously barred rebel groups.

The conference, in the capital of Naypyidaw, aims to end fighting that has continued since the nation gained independence from Britain in 1948.

Seven ethnic rebel groups have yet to sign a cease-fire deal with the government, but now plan to attend the Union Peace Conference.

Suu Kyi's stated No. 1 priority is ending decades of near-perpetual civil war — which she sees as key to unlocking the resource-rich country's potential and guaranteeing basic development for its more than 50 million people.

When she took charge of the peace process last year, Suu Kyi dismantled a peace center set up by the previous government that was leading talks with the rebels. Some observers say the move undermined the trust built up over the years.

Several conflicts have reignited since then, displacing an estimated 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.