Burmese Government Officials Talk With Kachin Rebels in China

Posted January 18th, 2012 at 7:25 pm (UTC-5)
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A Burmese government delegation has met with political representatives of Burma's armed ethnic group Kachin for talks on how to end months of armed clashes in the northern state.

During the meeting Wednesday in the Chinese town of Ruili, members of the Kachin Independence Organization tried to clear the way for further talks on greater autonomy in Burma's Kachin state within a federal system.

One of the ethnic leaders, Lah Nan, told the Kachin News Group that this week's talks will focus on the root cause of the most recent conflict between the Kachin militia and the Burmese government. About 60,000 people have been displaced since June of last year as a result of the government military campaign in Kachin state.

President Thein Sein ordered the army in December to halt military operations against Kachin state, but the fighting has continued. Officials say the cease-fire has been hard to implement immediately.

The Burmese government delegation was led by Aung Thaung, the head of a peacemaking committee that President Thein Sein created in December. The talks are set to continue Thursday.

Last week, Burma reached a cease-fire agreement with the Karen people and this week with the Shan group, but there have been no talks regarding autonomy. The large ethnic groups in the country's north have been fighting for greater autonomy in their traditional states.

Since Burma's new nominally civilian government took office in March, it has made significant steps toward democratization of the country after more than six decades of military rule. The international community has urged officials to start dialogue with the country's armed ethnic groups.