U.N. hails Myanmar outreach with Kachin rebels

Nov. 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM

YANGON, Myanmar, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The Myanmar government has come a long way in ensuring peace can be secured with armed groups in Kachin state, a U.N. envoy said.

The government in Myanmar held two days of peace talks in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, early this week.

Vijay Nambiar, a U.N. adviser on Myanmar, said this meeting was the first step in a national reconciliation process.

"The fact that such a meeting could take place within the country testifies to the distance that the government and ethnic armed groups have traversed since the beginning of the reform process in Myanmar," he said in a statement Tuesday from Yangon.

Myanmar earned international praise for the series of political reforms that began with general elections in 2010.

The Kachin independence movement in Myanmar said it would scale down its fighting after reaching a peace agreement with the central government in mid-October. Conflict in the restive northern state of Kachin has overshadowed political reforms made in Myanmar. The seven-point agreement, however, fell short of a formal cease-fire agreement.

Myanmar is facing a wide range of national security challenges. The Irrawaddy, a Thai newspaper, reports conflict between Buddhists and the minority Muslim community flared up last weekend in Rakhine state.

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