“We were asked by the monks if we desired peace,” he said. “If we did, they would be happy to serve as mediators. They however did not bring any official documents to support their overture.”
The SSA reportedly replied to the two monks coming from Kehsi, 25 miles southwest of Wanhai, the SSA headquarters, that the Burma Army should suspend its military activities and its units return to their home bases, if peace was to be achieved. “‘Don’t you desire peace?’ is not the question the Burma Army should ask us,” Sai La told SHAN. “It is us who should ask them. After all, it wasn’t us who broke the ceasefire.”
The Burma Army has reportedly suffered heavy casualties since the campaign against the SSA began on 13 March.
The first parley was held in Mongkherh, Hsipaw township, on 11 April, following the counter-campaign by the SSA in Kyaukme, Namhsan, Hsipaw and Namtu, out of its bailiwick. “If we agreed to withdraw all our troops and return to the south, we would be allowed to stay freely as we did previously, they said,” reported an SSA source at that time.
The demand was believed to be linked to China’s concern over its oil and gas pipeline route that is slated to pass through Mongmit, Kyawkme and Hsipaw townships.
Wanhai’s response was that withdrawal of the attacking Burmese forces should be a prelude to any peace agreement.
Naypyitaw has also been holding talks off and on with the SSA’s ally Kachin Independence Army (KIA) further north, where its campaign which began in June continues.
Sun Tzu, the author of the ancient military treatise, The Art of War, has admonished: Humble words by envoys and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance.
So far, the Burma Army forces, 42 under-strength infantry battalions, have yet to make an advance to Wanhai.