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Burma, Kachin Rebels Reach Tentative Cease-Fire

A soldier from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) puts on his shoes as he and his comrade cross a stream towards the front line in Laiza, Kachin state, January 29, 2013.
Burma's government and ethnic Kachin rebels have reached a tentative cease-fire aimed at ending two years of fighting that has displaced nearly 100,000 people.

Under the agreement, reached Thursday after three days of talks, fighting will stop and further talks will be held on Kachin demands for more political rights and greater autonomy.

The talks, in northern Burma, were monitored by representatives of the United Nations, Chinese government and Burmese ethnic minorities. Chinese diplomat Lu Zhi told VOA's Burmese service that China had assisted the negotiations at the request of both sides.

"I think the the Myanmar peace talk is the internal, Myanmar internal affairs," he said. "And China, as for China, we are neighboring, friendly neighboring countries with Myanmar. And as interest, direct interest linked aside, and we, on the requests of both side, and offer necessary assistance on the basis of fully respect of Myanmar sovereignty."

The seven-point agreement calls for a cessation of hostilities, the opening of political dialogue and the establishment of joint monitoring committees. The parties also agreed to begin work on the resettlement of displaced persons.

The U.S. Embassy in Rangoon issued a statement Friday welcoming the talks.

The Kachin are Burma's only major ethnic group that has not signed a cease-fire agreement since the reformist government of President Thein Sein came to power in 2011.