Burmese Government to Hold Talks with Kachin Rebels

Posted March 8th, 2012 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese government officials are meeting Thursday with a Kachin rebel group for talks on how to end months of armed clashes in the northern state.

The independent Kachin News Group says members of the Kachin Independence Organization will meet with a government delegation in the Chinese border town of Rulli.

KIO officials are quoted as saying the talks will focus on finding a permanent solution to the conflict, which has displaced about 60,000 people since June. The group says it wants not only a cease-fire, but the withdrawal of government troops from KIO territories.

President Thein Sein ordered the army in December to halt military operations in Kachin state, but the fighting has continued.

Since taking power a year ago, Burma's nominally civilian government has signed peace deals with a number of rebel groups, which have been fighting for greater autonomy in their traditional states.

Western governments, led by the United States and the European Union, have pressed Burma to end the decades of conflict and make other political reforms in exchange for lifting sanctions originally imposed on the country's former military government.

The new government, which is dominated by former and current military officials, has carried out several reforms, including starting dialogue with political opponents and easing restrictions on the press.