Myanmar, Kachin rebels in key peace dialogues

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YANGON: Myanmar on Thursday looked to build on a tentative peace deal with Kachin rebels, with talks aimed at ending the country’s last major active civil war.

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Fighting in northern Kachin state has displaced tens of thousands since a 17-year ceasefire crumbled two years ago, with bouts of heavy combat that have undermined the reformist government’s aim of securing countrywide peace.

The negotiations, which began on Tuesday and are set to be concluded Thursday, focused on the “root causes” of the conflict and were aimed at preventing further skirmishes, according to state-run New Light of Myanmar.

President Thein Sein’s government has reached tentative peace deals with most major armed ethnic minority rebel groups in the country, which has been racked by civil wars since independence from British colonial rule in 1948.

But fighting in Kachin, near the northern border with China has continued since June 2011 and displaced some 100,000 people according to the United Nations.

The bloodshed—along with religious unrest elsewhere in the country—has overshadowed widely praised political changes as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule.

Talks in the Kachin state capital Myitkyina—the second to be held on home soil—are being observed by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar.

AFP

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