The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has rejected the Burmese government’s invitation to meet in July in a government-controlled area in Bhamo (Manmaw) in Kachin State or Muse in Shan State, according to KIO officials. The KIO has met twice with government officials in KIO-controlled areas, and several times in Yunnan Province in China.
The KIO said future meetings should take place in either Laiza or Mai Ja Yang or in neutral territory somewhere on the Bhamo (Manmaw)-Loije road in Kachin State, according to an article on Thursday on the Kachin News Group website.
During two meetings at the beginning and end of June in Mai Ja Yang, the KIO demanded the government withdraw its troops from KIO frontline areas.
The meetings ended in deadlock, as was the case in meetings in Ruili (Shweli) in Yunnan Province, China, in November, January and March. Both sides have been unable to come to agreement on basic terms, in spite of an order by Burmese President Thein Sein that government troops should stand down and fighting should cease in Kachin State.
The government wants the KIO to sign a cease-fire before it will discuss pulling its troops back from the front lines, said negotiators. The KIO won’t discuss the idea of a cease-fire until the Burmese army leaves KIO-controlled areas. It also wants the participation of an international independent body to be involved in a peace agreement.
In May, the KIO urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene in the Kachin conflict and do more to provide humanitarian aid to an estimated 75,000 internally displaced persons who have fled from the fighting since June 2011.
The past three months have seen a sharp escalation in the scale of fighting in Kachin State with KIO claims that the government could be preparing an attack on KIO headquarters in Laiza.
Many KIO attacks have been directed at non-military targets, including attacks on railways and bridges. Clashes between government outposts and KIA guerrillas have also picked up.
In May, the New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper, reported that KIO explosives had damaged three bridges. Also, mine attacks destroyed a length of railroad tracks and nine sleeper carriages were derailed on the Myikyina- Mandalay railroad route in Kachin State.
The attacks occurred during ongoing peace talks between the government and the KIO.
State-run media has blamed KIO “hardline leaders” for the failure of progress in peace talks.
“Eternal peace in Kachin State is still a pipe dream for the nationalities there due to some hardline leaders in spite of three rounds of peace talks between the union level peace making group and the KIO,” said an editorial in the New Light of Myanmar on April 23.
The government’s frustration with the lack of progress has surfaced after a series of meetings where no agreement was reached regarding procedures necessary to get the talks started.
The Kachin and the government have been fighting off-and-on for more than five decades.
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