The Burmese government has extended an invitation to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) to join the third round of national peace talks in Naypyidaw next month.
The Naga rebels, who did not attend either the first or second session of the Union Peace Conference, met yesterday in Yangon with the government-backed Peace Commission headed by Dr. Tin Myo Win.
Following that meeting, Burma’s Ministry of Information announced that it was sending an official invitation to the NSCN-K to join January’s summit, known unofficially as the 21st Century Panglong Conference.
Although the Naga armed group signed a state-level ceasefire accord with the government in April 2012, it was not a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed between the then Thein Sein administration and eight ethnic armed groups in October 2015.
Representatives of the NSCN held a preparatory meeting with the government in July 2016 aimed at paving the way for the Nagas to join the peace process. However, yesterday’s talks marked the first occasion the group had sat for a meeting with government negotiators since July last year.
Considered a terrorist organisation in neighbouring India, the NSCN-K is among a half dozen closely related Naga militias operating in the remote Himalayan foothills along the Indo-Burmese border. Formed in 1980 in armed resistance to both governments, the various NSCN groups say they are fighting for an autonomous Naga territory. The Sagaing-based NSCN-K is estimated to have no more than 500-600 armed fighters.
The NSCN-K has not clashed on the battlefield with Burmese government forces since 2000.