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The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has told DVB it has offered to negotiate with the Burmese military over which side should withdraw first from positions around Mongton Township, as a prolonged standoff continues over a logging dispute in the area.
“We raised the issue with the president [Thein Sein] on Monday morning and with Minister Thein Zaw [vice-chairman of the government negotiating team Union Peace-making Work Committee] the day before,” said UWSA spokesman Aung Myint, “The president has spoken with the commander-in-chief, and we have contacted the [Burmese army]’s Triangle Region Military Command three times, attempting to negotiate who should withdraw from the area first.”
Meanwhile, troops from both sides have dug in while the stalemate continues. Last week, workers for a timber company under Wa army control were detained by government troops. UWSA units then surrounded Burmese bases in Mongsat District, eastern Shan State.
The government has yet to make an announcement on the situation.
The UWSA, believed to be the strongest ethnic armed group in Burma with an estimated troop strength of up to 30,000, has twice signed ceasefire agreements with the government; first in 1989 and later with Thein Sein’s reformist government in 2011.