By Aye Nai
Two days of discussions between the Kachin Independence Organisation and the Burmese government over an end to fighting in northern Burma have been unsuccessful, but both sides say they will push for additional dialogue.
Delegates from the government’s negotiating team met with the Kachin on neutral ground in the Chinese border town of Ruili on Wednesday. With up to 60,000 refugees displaced by the conflict, the need to bring to an end seven months of fighting has become crucial.
A joint statement released today said that talks would resume “in an effort to build up trust,” but gave no indication of a time-frame. Several attempts at brokering a ceasefire in recent months have failed to net results.
The intensity of fighting in Kachin state has alarmed observers, with reports surfacing last year that Burmese troops had raped up to 40 Kachin women and razed houses in an effort to weaken grassroots support for the armed wing of the KIO, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
President Thein Sein issued a second order on Friday last week demanding that government troops cease attacks on ethnic armies across Burma. A similar order in December last year was apparently not heeded by units in Kachin state, where fighting continues.
Kachin sources on the frontline of fighting told DVB today that Burmese troops had launched an assault on the KIA’s Brigade 8 this morning while the meeting was underway. This however has not been independently verified.
The government brokered a successful ceasefire with the Karen National Union on 12 January, the first time the two sides have agreed a truce in more than six decades of fighting.