Latest KIO-Burma talks end without peace deal

burma-kio-ruili-talkRUILI, China — Two days of talks between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization concluded in China on Friday without a comprehensive peace agreement being reached.

The latest round of negotiations took place in the Yunnanese border town of Ruili as Burma's armed forces and the country's second largest armed ethnic group continued to clash along a large front line that spans much of Kachin and significant parts of northern Shan state.

According to sources who attended the meeting one of the major sticking points that remains is government delegation's refusal to accept the KIO demand that issues relating to the political cause of the conflict be addressed prior to a ceasefire being reached.

The government team was led by retired general turned MP Aung Thaung known to be close to former military leader Than Shwe, while the KIO delegation was led by Sumlut Gam.

During the second day of talks, Aung Thaung's stance that a political dialogue only begins in parliament after a ceasefire is signed was rejected by the KIO delegation, said a KIO official with knowledge of the talks.

Since the beginning of the conflict which started when the Burmese army attacked KIO position in June of last year, the KIO repeated its desire for a deal based on the 1947 Panglong agreement signed by General Aung San and representatives of the Kachin, Shan and Chin ethnic groups. Reached just before Burma received independence, Panglong granted Burma's major minorities some degree of autonomy over ethnic areas, however the agreement was never implemented after Aung San's assassination.

Many Western governments including the US and the UK say the lifting of sanctions on Burma also depends on progress being made towards national reconciliation with the country's ethnic minorities.

While a flurry of ceasefires agreements have been concluded between the the nominally civilian government and various armed rebel groups since the beginning of the year, the ongoing conflict between the army and the Kachin remains a glaring contradiction to President Thein Sein's claim his country has entered a new era.

Following the end of the talks Burmese opposition news group Democratic Voice of Burma quoted KIO spokesman Brig-Gen Gun Maw that one of the other major points of disagreement between the two sides is the future of Burmese army bases in KIO territory.

Over the past 24 hours, government forces launched an offensive against KIO position’s in central Kachin State's Sinbo region in territory belonging to it is the Kachin Independence Army's 5th Battalion.

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