The United Nations has welcomed Burma's latest efforts to bring peace to rebel-controlled areas in northeastern Kachin state.
A UN statement Sunday said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been following various reports from the ground on the implementation of a cease-fire that was supposed to have gone into effect on Saturday. The statement said Mr. Ban called on both sides to make serous efforts to create conditions for sustained peace in Kachin.
In a speech in Rangoon Sunday, Burmese President Thein Sein said government forces are within an “arm's length” of the main Kachin Independence Army base in the town of Laiza, on the border with China. He said he has ordered troops not to attack the base as a show of good will.
A Thailand-based spokesman for the Kachin rebel group said Burmese troops raided a rebel position Sunday several kilometers from Laiza, despite the unilateral government cease-fire. The rebel official said the government offensive involved artillery and ground troops.
Mr. Thein Sein's government had no immediate comment on the rebel claim about the fighting near Laiza.
The Burmese president called Sunday for the Kachin Independence Army to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible to develop what he called a “sustainable peace.”
Burmese troops and Kachin rebels have been fighting since 2011, when a 17-year cease-fire broke down. It is the last active civil war in Burma. Other ethnic groups have signed peace deals with the government.
The fighting in Kachin state has displaced tens of thousands of people and overshadowed major political reforms introduced since Burma ended decades of military rule in 2011.