Fighting continues in Kachin state as talks stall

Clashes between the Kachin Independence Army and Burmese military continue to erupt, while the armed ethnic group and government’s Peace Making Committee have yet to agree on a location to hold peace talks.

Following three unofficial meetings between KIA representatives and the Peace Making Work Committee vice-chairman Railway minister Aung Min, the government’s team proposed to hold a meeting with deputy commander-in-chief of the military lieutenant general Soe Win in Bhamo, Kachin state.

The KIA turned down the proposal citing that the group wasn’t comfortable meeting in the township, which is located in government territory and about 200 kilometers south of the state capital Myitkyina.

The armed group’s delegates then suggested meeting in Parangon village, two miles from the border town of Lweje in the south-eastern part of the state.

“We proposed to meet in Parangon village – we showed the location to the peace brokers –it was agreed on by U Aung Min. We had already finished constructing the buildings to facilitate the meeting as well so we wish to hold the unofficial meeting there,” said said La Nan.

“After we reach some level of agreement, we’ll go [to meet] anywhere.”

The offer was later axed by the government who recommended meeting in the Shan state border town of Muse across from Ruili, China.

The KIA dismissed the location and put Ruili on the table as a potential destination for the talks and is still waiting for the government’s response.

According to the KIA, there have been 83 clashes with government forces this month as of 24 July.

La Nan said talks with the Burmese government have gone smoothly in the past; however disagreements concerning demarcation have prevented the negotiations from progressing.

“Demarcation is an important issue. The [Burmese Army] forces are still increasing – they have been reinforcing troops in [KIA] brigade-4 region around Bhamo. As long as they keep increasing their activity, the talks will bear no fruit,” said La Nan

Lt general Soe Win was the former commander of the Burmese Army’s Northern Regional Military Command based in Kachin state, which oversees a majority of the campaign being levied against the KIA.

The army’s second in command is the acting vice-chairman of the Peace Making Work Committee alongside Aung Min. The duo helped broker a deal with the Shan State Army-South in May; however, the deputy commander-in-chief has been unable to reign in his troops in Shan state.

After a ceasefire broke down in June 2011, the KIA and Burmese troops have been involved in intense fighting that has displaced tens of thousands of people and tarnished the country’s ‘reform’ process.

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