China presses Myanmar on Kachin peace

June 24, 2013 at 11:21 AM
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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, June 24 (UPI) -- China is keen to see authorities with the central Myanmar government work toward a cease-fire with Kachin rebels, a visiting diplomat said Monday.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi met Monday in Naypyitaw with Myanmar President Thein Sein. Jiechi, a former foreign minister, called on the government to continue working on peace initiatives with Kachin rebels. Yang said the Chinese government would work with Myanmar, formerly Burma, to help broker a long-term peace with Kachin separatists, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The government in Myanmar declared a unilateral cease-fire in January following three weeks of clashes with Kachin separatists. Myanmar peace negotiator Aung Min said in May the Myanmar government was removing the Kachin independence group from a list of unlawful organizations.

James Lum Dau, a military official from the Kachin independence movement, told Thai newspaper The Irrawaddy of military attacks during the weekend. He said there were more than a dozen such attacks since May peace talks.

"Two days ago, they [government troops] came to attack us," he said Monday. "Our troops resisted them, it is not surprising."

Myanmar started to embrace democratic reforms with general elections in 2010. National security challenges and a poor human rights record, however, have clouded some of those developments.

Yang arrived Sunday in Myanmar as part of a two-day visit.

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