- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2013

Myanmar has reached a preliminary cease-fire agreement with Kachin rebels fighting near the border with China and India, raising hopes for an end to two years of conflict that has overshadowed reforms taking place in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Kachin Independence Organization and Myanmar’s government representatives signed the seven-point agreement Thursday after three days of talks in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin province.

The two sides agreed to undertake efforts to achieve a cessation of hostilities, establish joint monitoring committees, and rehabilitate and resettle people displaced in the war.

The United Nation’s special envoy on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, attended the talks.

The war in northern Kachin state erupted in June 2011 following the breakdown of a 17-year cease-fire between the government and the rebels. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting over the past two years.

Human rights groups have accused both sides of committing atrocities during the war.

Myanmarese President Thein Sein briefed President Obama, on a visit to Washington last week, on his government’s efforts to end conflicts with ethnic minorities.

The Obama administration began normalizing ties with Myanmar in 2011 as Thein Sein’s government has taken steps toward reform, including releasing more than 850 political prisoners, easing restrictions on the media, and allowing freedom of speech, assembly and movement.