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

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid