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Myanmar welcomes peace overture from Kachin rebels

YANGON -- Myanmar welcomed a ceasefire proposal by Kachin insurgents who have been a target of an army offensive for the past 19 months, media reports said Saturday.

"From the beginning, the government of Myanmar has believed that the genuine peace desired by all can be achieved only through political dialogue," said an official statement published in the state-owned New Light of Myanmar.

The government has come under increasing international criticism for failing to end its offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in the Kachin state.

The conflict has left hundreds dead and displaced up to 90,000 people, many of whom have been denied access by United Nations relief organizations and other aid providers.

"The KIA (Kachin Independence Army) will not undertake military activities that may cause problems if the Myanmar army suspends the military offensives," the KIO's Central Committee said Friday.

"The KIO will request assistance from organizations and countries which can help bring genuine peace," it said.

President Thein Sein on Friday hinted that the government was ready to allow UN access to ethnic Kachin refugees.

"We are taking steps to offer effective humanitarian assistance to national brethren in conflict regions and are cooperating with appropriate international organizations," Thein Sein said.

The government is also "committed to cooperating with those organizations facilitating the resumption of peace talks with KIO," he said.

The government has reached ceasefire agreements with 10 other ethnic minority insurgencies snce 2011.

Ending the decades-old conflicts with a dozen insurgencies was one of the conditions Western democracies set for normalizing relations with the country that was under military rule during 1962-2010.

Distributed by MCT Information Services
 

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