Myanmar, Kachin rebels hold talks

Feb. 4, 2013 at 11:53 PM

RUILI, China, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Myanmar officials and ethnic Kachin rebels, meeting in the Chinese border town of Ruili, agreed Monday to keep trying to find a way to end their fighting.

At the end of the day's peace talks, hosted by China, representatives of the civilian government in Myanmar and the Kachin Independence Organization issued a five-point joint statement in which the two sides agreed to focus on establishment of communication channels, reduce military tensions and invite observers to witness the next talks, China's cntv.cn reported. The negotiations will be coordinated with the Union National Federal Council, an alliance of Myanmar ethnic nationalities that includes KIO.

China's Xinhua News Agency said others present at the talks included Chinese Foreign Ministry official Luo Zhaohui and representatives of other ethnic groups who have made peace with the new Myanmar government.

The talks were held as fighting between Myanmar security forces and the ethnic rebels has intensified. The government of Myanmar, formerly called Burma, had announced a unilateral cease-fire last month to prepare for the current dialogue.

The Kachins, who have been fighting for decades against Myanmar's former military rulers, is the only minority rebel group that has not concluded a truce with the new civilian government, which replaced the junta after elections in 2011 in the Southeast Asian nation.

Negotiations between the two sides in October in Ruili failed to produce a peace plan.

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