Myanmar holds new cease-fire talks with Kachin

Last Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 18:14

Yangon (Myanmar): Myanmar`s government and
ethnic Kachin rebels met on Thursday for cease-fire talks to end
several months of armed clashes near the northern border with
China.

After two days of negotiations, a high-level government
team and members of the Kachin Independence Organization
agreed to continue talks later and in the meantime to inform
the other side before deploying troops, according to an
official at the talks who declined to be named.

The talks were the latest efforts by Myanmar`s new,
nominally civilian government to end the country`s
long-running ethnic conflicts, one of many reforms under way
after years of military rule.

Stopping ethnic clashes is a key demand of Western
governments that are weighing lifting sanctions imposed during
the junta`s rule. Last week, the government signed a
cease-fire pact with Karen rebels in eastern Myanmar, in a
major step toward ending one of the world`s longest-running
insurgencies. Other talks are reportedly taking place with the
Shan, Karenni and Chin.

A prominent Kachin mediator, Rev. Saboi Jum, told The
Associated Press that talks were held across the border in
Ruili in China`s Yunnan province.

The next round of negotiations would be held in Myanmar,
according to the official who spoke anonymously because he was
not authorized to disclose details of the talks.

The Kachin Independence Organization reached a peace deal
with the country`s former ruling junta in 1994, but the truce
broke down in 2010 after the group rejected a call by the
junta to transform its troops into border guards under the
government`s leadership.

The Kachin have been fighting the government since June,
when the army tried to break up some of their militia
strongholds. Thousands of ethnic Kachin have fled their homes
to avoid the fighting.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has described an
end to the fighting with ethnic guerrillas as a national
priority, and last month said she would be willing to help
with peace negotiations.

The Nobel laureate and former political prisoner sent a
letter to the Kachin people expressing compassion,
particularly for the women and children who have been uprooted
by the fighting, said Saboi Jum.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 18:14

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