News / Asia

    Burma Confirms Peace Talks with Kachin Rebels

    Daniel Schearf
    Burma has confirmed a new round of peace talks with Kachin rebels will be hosted by another insurgent group, the United Wa State Army.  The Wa have close links to China, which has expressed concern about stability along the border. 

    Burma's presidential spokesman Ye Htut confirmed the peace talks to VOA Thursday after Kachin rebels agreed they could take place in eastern Shan state's Panghsang.  

    It is the headquarters of the United Wa State Army, Burma's largest ethnic rebel group, with close ties to neighboring China.

    Ye Htut says they accepted the Wa's offer to host negotiations between the government and the Kachin Independence Organization.  He says they are still discussing a date for the talks. "We already clearly stated we are ready to meet whenever and what places for the peace talks with the KIO.  So, when the Wa offered their place, we agree on that," he said.

    A 17-year ceasefire between the KIO's armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army, and Burma authorities broke down after clashes erupted in 2011.  Each side blame the other for starting the fighting.

    In December, clashes between soldiers and rebels intensified in northern Kachin state.

    Burma jet fighters and helicopters attacked areas around La Ja Yang and KIO headquarters in Laiza, on the border with China.

    Several shells landed along the border and in Chinese territory

    Kachin communities on both sides demonstrated for peace and Beijing urged restraint.

    The escalating clashes led to international expressions of concern and, under pressure, the government declared a ceasefire.  But witnesses say only the air attacks stopped, while heavy mortar and artillery fire continued.

    Wa spokesman U Aung Myint says the government accepted their offer to host the talks several days ago, but were waiting for the KIA agreement, which came Tuesday. 

    He says, after the date of the talks is determined, then they need to decide who from the KIA and who from the government will attend the discussions.

    U Aung Myint says both sides approve of meeting in Wa territory because it is safe and they know each other well.

    The Wa were the largest of several ethnic armed groups to form after the breakup of the Burmese Communist Party in 1989, which Beijing directly supported.

    The Wa and Kachin both share borders with China. Burma signed a ceasefire with the Wa in 1989 that has held despite occasional tensions.

    It has also allowed them to become the region's largest narcotics dealer with a leader on a U.S. "most wanted" list.

    Burma's 2009 attack on a Kokang militia for refusing to become government border guards put the Wa, who also refuse, on guard.

    Security analysts say, since then, the Wa have been carefully watching the conflict in Kachin state and quietly building up a stronger military deterrent with China's help.

    The Chinese Embassy in Rangoon denies Beijing carried out any weapons transfers.

    Burmese authorities and the KIO have held several rounds of talks that made little progress.  The KIO wants to discuss the sensitive issue of autonomy while the government first wants a formal ceasefire.

    The Chinese border town, Ruili, hosted the last round of peace talks, in October, but the KIA did not send a commander with decision-making authority.

    Ye Htut says the break-down in dialogue led to the renewed clashes. "So, then October 30th, we sent Lt. General Myint Soe, who has control over the Kachin in northern Shan state.  But, they refused to send their authoritative person from the KIA," he stated. "That's why the negotiations stopped at that level and that led to the recent fighting in the La Ja Yang area."

    Ye Htut says it is important the KIA sends high-level representatives to this round of talks so real progress can be made.

    A KIA spokesperson has not been available for comment since the fighting intensified.

    But, peace negotiators and analysts say the rebels' reluctance is based on a lack of trust

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.