Monday, February 4, 2013

Myanmar govt, KIO head for peace talks in China

Monday, 04 February 2013 12:05 Mizzima News

Myanmar will hold another round of talks with Kachin rebels on Monday in a bid to end a conflict raging in the country's far north, a federation of ethnic minority groups said.

The two sides will attend an "emergency meeting" in the Chinese border town of Ruili to seek a breakthrough in the bloody conflict, Khun Okker, a spokesman for the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), said on Sunday.

A Burmese government peace delegation and top Kachin Independence Organization leaders met in November 2011 in Shweli in China’s Yunnan Province to discuss a cease-fire. Photo: Mizzima

"China arranged it," he told AFP. "They [China] might want to give their views to both the KIA [Kachin Independence Army] and the Myanmar government."

But he said the rebels "have not had much time to prepare" and the problem was unlikely to be resolved without political dialogue at additional meetings in the future including the whole UNFC, formed by about a dozen ethnic groups.

There was no comment from the government, and it was unclear which officials would attend Monday's meeting.

Almost a dozen rounds of talks between Myanmar's reformist government and the Kachin since the conflict flared up again in 2011 have failed to make progress.

The KIA, who are fighting for greater autonomy, say any negotiations should also address their demands for more political rights.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Kachin state since June 2011, when a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the Kachin broke down.

The government last month announced a unilateral ceasefire with the KIA but the fighting continued, with the government army capturing a key outpost as it edged closer to the rebels' headquarters near the Chinese border.

Beijing, which fears an influx of refugees from the violence-torn region, has urged an end to the fighting.

Chinese state-run media has reported that China's Yunnan province is planning camps for 10,000 people in case large numbers flee across the frontier.

"China arranged to hold this meeting. China doesn't want very serious fighting along its border," Aung Kyaw Zaw, an analyst with close ties to the KIA, said of Monday's planned talks.

"More than 30,000 Myanmar troops are here in Kachin State. The KIA is resisting them with about 8,000 troops," he said. "Kachin State is ruined because of the long fighting."
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