Myanmar reaches deal with rebels to ease tensions
Yangon: Myanmar's government reached an agreement with ethnic Kachin rebels on Monday to work to end a bloody conflict that has cast a shadow over the country's progress in moving away from almost half a century of repressive military rule.
Copies of the statement released by both sides after seven hours of talks in southern China said the Kachin Independence Organisation and the government's Central Peace Committee agreed to de-escalate military tensions, open lines of communication and invite observers to attend their next meeting to be held before end of February.
Like Myanmar's other ethnic minorities, the Kachin have long sought greater autonomy from the central government. They are the only major ethnic rebel group that has not reached a truce with President Thein Sein's elected government, which came to power in 2011 after decades of brutal military rule.
Both sides also agreed to hold a political dialogue -- as opposed to just cease-fire talks -- and to establish a monitoring system to implement a cease-fire between warring government troops and Kachin guerrillas in the country's north. The agreement was reported on Myanmar state television this evening.
The meeting in the Chines town of Ruili came after the government gained the upper hand by capturing several strategic hilltop positions near the town of Laiza, which serves as a headquarters for the rebels.