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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid