#Myanmar signs ceasefire with two rebel groups amid decades of conflict

Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi hopes more rebel groups join the ceasefire agreement

"Today's event is another step in the process with two more parties, the NMSP and the LDU, agreeing to sign the NCA".

The State Counselor stressed the ceasefire agreement is not the end of the peace process but the beginning of political dialogue.

Myanmar government and two more ethnic armed groups signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) in Nay Pyi Taw Tuesday.

The two groups have not actively clashed with the army for some time but were part of a bloc of powerful rebel armies that resisted signing the NCA under the former military-backed government.

Ending near-perpetual civil war has been Suu Kyi's stated top priority, but the Buddhist-majority country has seen the worst fighting with rebels in years since she took office nearly two years ago.

The latest two signatories have not engaged in active fighting with the military in recent years, but analysts said it marks a positive move for negotiations with other armed groups.

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Addressing the gathering, Suu Kyi said, "This is the decision to make the first step to jointly lay the foundation stone of the Democratic Federal Republic that will emerge in the future for the national reconciliation and union peace".

A third meeting of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, which followed the initiation of the NCA in 2015, is likely to be held this later this month to discuss fundamental principles for the establishment of a federal system guaranteeing the autonomy of each ethnic group and the disarmament process.

In response to a query on India's presence at the signing of National Ceasefire Agreement in Myanmar, MEA Official Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "India supports the Myanmar peace process". Eight groups had joined the peace process in 2015.

India along with China, Japan, Thailand, UN and European Union had been invited to sign the NCA as worldwide witnesses.

Representatives of India, China, Japan, Thailand, United Nations and European Union were global witnesses on the occasion.

The United Nations described Myanmar's crackdown as ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a charge Myanmar denies.

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