Sun Feb 3, 2013 5:13PM
A soldier from the Kachin Independence Army on the Laja Yang frontline. (file photo)

A soldier from the Kachin Independence Army on the Laja Yang frontline. (file photo)

Myanmar and Kachin rebels will hold another round of peace talks in a bid to end the conflict raging in the country’s far north, a federation of ethnic minority groups say. On Saturday, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) agreed to hold a fresh round of talks with Myanmar’s government in China in hopes of ending the conflict with the military. The meeting will be held next week on Monday in the Chinese border town of Ruili, Khun Okker, the spokesman for the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), said in an “emergency meeting” with both sides. The talks have been confirmed by both the government and the Kachin Independence Army; however it is still unclear which officials are to attend. China has arranged this meeting, Okker said, adding, "They (China) might want to give their views to both the KIA and the Myanmar government." He went on to say that the rebels have not had much time to prepare for the meeting and that further political dialogue at additional meetings is needed to resolve the problems. The KIA said in a statement that the Chinese government "will take a role as a witness and mediate during the meeting." They agreed to the meeting after the army captured several strategic guerrilla-held hilltops around Laiza, which serves as a headquarters for the rebels. There has been speculation that the government has launched the assault to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table. This comes while the KIA has refused to sign the ceasefire deal proposed by the government until a concrete political deal is offered. The 17-year ceasefire broke down in June 2011, similar peace talks have been held at least eight times but all have failed to agree on terms of a permanent truce. The Kachin rebels seek greater autonomy from the central government, and more political rights in further negotiations. They are the only major ethnic rebel group that has not reached a truce with President Thein Sein's administration. SD/PKH
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