NEW DELHI, Oct 15 - India today hailed the signing of peace agreements by Myanmar with eight rebel groups, which was witnessed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s special envoy for the Northeast RN Ravi.
Although the eight underground rebel groups did not include Khaplang faction of the NSCN, India is encouraged by Nay Pyi Daw�s invitation.
�Basically I would like to say that as a friendly, historical and cultural neighbour of Myanmar, we are glad to make the small contribution to restore peace in Myanmar as eight groups signed the peace accord today, mainly belonging to the Karen and the Shan groups,� said Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Vikas Swarup.
�The agreement remains open for signature by other groups that Government of Myanmar has been in negotiations with. The signing ceremony was witnessed only by a few international observers, which included China, India Japan, Thailand, European Union and United Nations,� the spokesman said.
The delegation interestingly includes former Chief Minister of Mizoram Zoramthanga, who himself was a rebel leader. Zoramthanga has been involved in negotiations between Myanmar and United Nationalities Federation Council, a group of ethnic armies.
It took two years of negotiations to bring the eight rebel groups on board. Those who signed on to the pact are primarily clustered along Myanmar�s border with Thailand.
The National League for Democracy, the party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi did not attend the ceremony.
�The National Ceasefire Agreement is a historic gift from us to generations of the future,� declared President Thein Sein at the signing ceremony in the capital, Voice of America has reported.
�Tens of thousands of troops from both sides have lost their lives in the conflicts,� the President noted. �Hundreds of thousands of people living in conflict areas have suffered severely due to the fighting.�
Acknowledging that the ethnic Kachin and Wa � with tens of thousands of soldiers � are still determined to fight, Thein Sein pledged to �try harder to gain agreement with other groups�.
Chief of the Karen National Union Saw Mutu Say Poe told Myanmar�s powerful military that they would like to request the military to use dialogue rather than force to persuade other groups to put down their weapons.