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Myanmar holds peace talks between ethnic groups

By Shawn Price
Myanmar holds peace talks between ethnic groups
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi opened official peace talks between her government, the military and various ethnic groups in an attempt to finally end decades of fighting. The talks are expected to take years. Photo by Hongsar Ramonya/ UPI | License Photo

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Peace talks have begun in Myanmar, as various ethnic groups sit down with government officials to end decades of conflict.

The peace talks, which were opened Wednesday by the embattled country's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, included 17 different groups and may take years to complete.

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"So long as we are unable to achieve national reconciliation and national unity," she told attendees in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, "We will never be able to establish a sustainable and durable peaceful union."

"Only if our country is at peace will we be able to stand on an equal footing with the other countries in our region and across the world," she said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the opening, praised the efforts as "an important first step."

The talks were threatened hours earlier by new fighting between ethnic groups and the military in the northern end of the country.

Analysts have tried to lower expectations at least for this round of talks.

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