Burma has begun a new round of peace talks with Kachin rebels aimed at reaching a comprehensive cease-fire agreement in the northern state.
The United Nations special envoy for Burma, Vijay Nambiar, and several Chinese diplomats observed the meeting Tuesday in the Kachin state capital of Myitkyina. During the two-hour talks, both sides submitted proposals for creating a committee to monitor a cease-fire agreement and to conduct political dialogue.
Top government negotiator U Aung Min said the meeting could help clear the way for a comprehensive cease-fire agreement with all of the country’s armed ethnic rebel groups later this year.
The talks are the first held inside Burma since fighting between the country’s military and the Kachin Independence Army resumed nearly two years ago. Several rounds of negotiations held in China failed to produce an agreement.
Kachin Army General Guan Maw said the main purpose of the conference is to set the standard for future dialogues between the government and the Kachin people.
The U.N.'s Nambiar expressed hope that during the three days of talks, the two sides can come to an agreement and lay the basis for a durable and sustainable peace.
U Kyaw Yin Hlaing, special adviser to President Thein Sein, said the conference Tuesday was a success, and that it is important to look ahead despite disagreements.
Fighting erupted in Kachin in June 2011, ending a cease-fire that had been in place since 1994 and displacing more than 100,000 people.
Since independence in 1948, Burma, also known as Myanmar, has faced rebellions from a number of minority groups seeking autonomy.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.