A new process of dialogue between the renamed SLORC – the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) – and Aung San Suu Kyi began to develop from late 2000. Hopes for real dialogue remained high during 2001 and 2002, and the KNU (and alliance circles) emphasised the need for 'tripartite dialogue' between the regime, the NLD and 'ethnic forces', though the ethnic struggle undoubtedly continued to be overshadowed by the democracy issue.
Intermittent contacts between the KNU and the SPDC continued during this period while Thai pressure, in the form of the restriction of Burmese opposition groups' movement in Thailand, continued to intensify. During 2003, efforts to persuade the KNU to again try negotiation were renewed by the SPDC-backed mediator group and independently by other Karen community leaders.
Under intensifying international criticism, in August 2003 the SPDC announced a 'roadmap' for transition to democracy, the first step of which would be re-convening the National Convention, a constitution-drafting process initiated in 1992 but stalled since 1996. While international efforts were concentrated (unsuccessfully) on securing the involvement of the NLD, the SPDC sought participation of key ethnic communities, especially ethnic ceasefire groups. This, and perhaps parallel Thai persuasion, seems to account for a surprise visit by Bo Mya to Rangoon at the invitation of the SPDC, where he made a 'gentleman's agreement' ceasefire in December 2003. Perhaps it was thought that a quick ceasefire would lead to KNU participation in the Convention. The sudden change of position by Bo Mya has given weight to those in the KNU who have long advocated a negotiations policy, but it has not yet neutralised those more in line with 'alliance policy' that opposes a KNU ceasefire.
A KNU negotiating team subsequently met with the SPDC negotiators on two occasions, but remained essentially at the confidence-building stage and made only nominal progress against the backdrop of the uneasy 'gentleman's agreement', which elements on both sides were inclined to want to disregard. With little progress occurring, talks were suspended while the Convention was in session and efforts to reconvene the talks met a series of delays from both sides. When a KNU delegation arrived in Rangoon in October 2004, a new round of talks was engulfed by the political crisis caused by the removal of Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and the purge of the Military Intelligence apparatus that was his power base and had made up the SLORC/SPDC ceasefire negotiators.