Rebels meet with Myanmar officials

April 8, 2012 at 6:52 PM
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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, April 8 (UPI) -- Leaders of Myanmar's Karen rebel group met Sunday with government opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The meeting between Naw Si Pho Ra Sein, general secretary of the Karen National Union, and Suu Kyi, general secretary the National League for Democracy, took place a day after President Thein Sein met with representatives of the rebel organization. As members of the Karen National Union solidified plans for a cease-fire Friday, the peace process made significant gains during the weekend.

The Karen people represent 7 percent of Myanmar's population, and the Karen insurgency is one of the largest and most powerful, The Washington Post reported. They control the deep-sea port of Dawei, as well as Myanmar's border with Thailand.

Myanmar's lengthy history of guerrilla conflict and human rights abuse, dates back to its independence from Britain in 1948. Peace with the Karen people, as well as the Kachin and other ethnic insurgents, could boost Myanmar's economy, which has been crippled by sanctions and crackdowns on trade in rebel areas.

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