Myanmar`s Suu Kyi meets Karen ethnic rebels

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate held about two hours of talks with delegates from the Karen National Union in Yangon.

Yangon: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi met on Sunday with Karen ethnic minority rebels in her
first significant foray into politics since her election to
public office a week earlier.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who won her first-ever
seat in parliament in April 1 by-elections, held about two
hours of talks with delegates from the Karen National Union in

The National League for Democracy (NLD) leader
described the meeting as a "significant event" that would help
to foster national reconciliation.

She added: "As the NLD`s goal is to have true
democratic unity, we believe all ethnicities should be
included in this process together."

The talks came a day after the KNU delegates met
Myanmar`s reformist President Thein Sein in the capital
Naypyidaw for the first time.

Myanmar considers the group -- whose leadership is
based in Thailand -- to be an illegal organisation.

Its armed wing has been waging Myanmar`s longest-
running insurgency, battling the government since 1949 in the
eastern jungle near the Thai border.

The KNU signed a pact with the new reform-minded
government in January this year in a move that raised hopes of
a permanent end to one of the world`s oldest civil conflicts.

KNU general secretary Zipporah Sein said her group had
asked Thein Sein to reconsider the ban on her organisation
because its status "is a danger, scary and worrisome for the
people in this country."

Suu Kyi, who has suggested she will use her position
as a lawmaker to try to help resolve the ethnic issue, said it
would be better if there were no banned organisations in

Civil war has gripped parts of the country formerly
known as Burma since its independence in 1948, and an end to
the conflicts is a key demand of the international community.

Tentative peace deals have been inked with several rebel groups as part of the government`s reform agenda, but
ongoing fighting in northern Kachin state has overshadowed the
reconciliation effort.

On Friday the KNU and the government negotiated a 13-
point deal, including a code of conduct to ensure civilian
safety and an agreement to make plans for the resettlement of
internal refugees and demining.

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

Fighting and human rights abuses in Karen state have
forced tens of thousands of refugees across the border into