Myanmar and Kachin rebels to hold peace talks

Meetings in China set to start on Monday after intensified fighting between the two sides.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2013 09:09
Since the conflict resumed in 2011 after a 17-year ceasefire, the two sides have held at least 10 rounds of talks [AFP]

Myanmar's government and ethnic Kachin rebels have said they will hold peace talks in China in the coming days after some of the worst fighting between the two sides in the country in years.

The talks will begin on Monday in the Chinese border town of Ruili, officials from both sides said.

The meeting comes after the army captured several strategic guerrilla-held hilltops this month in the hills around the town of Laiza, which serves as a headquarter for the rebel movement in Kachin state.

The army used fighter jets, helicopter gunships and intense artillery barrages to seize the rebel outposts during its offensive. There has been speculation that the government launched the assault to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table.

Laiza has been largely quiet since government troops took control of Hka Ya Bhum, the highest hill in the area, on January 26.

However, Kachin Independence Army officers have reported at least one brief battle in the region as well as clashes elsewhere in Kachin state.

Since the conflict resumed in June 2011 after a 17-year ceasefire, the two sides have held at least 10 rounds of talks to try to end it.

The Kachin, like Myanmar's other ethnic minorities, 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 administration, which has been praised by world powers for making political and economic strides towards democratic rule over the last two years.


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