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Burma Reaches Cease Fire with Karen Rebels - 2004-01-24


Burma's military rulers and the country's main rebel group, the Karen National Union, say they have agreed on a cease-fire aimed at ending five decades of conflict between ethnic-Karen insurgents and the Burmese government.

A statement by the military junta in Rangoon (Friday) said the two sides have "a mutual understanding" to work together for "national unity, solidarity of the nation and peace and prosperity."

A Karen delegation that met for six days with Burma's military leaders left Rangoon earlier (on Thursday) for Bangkok. A spokesman for the KNU confirmed a cease-fire is in effect, but said more talks would be necessary.

The two sides reportedly have agreed to meet again within a month.

The ethnic-Karen group was led by Bo Mya, head of the KNU's military wing. The junta's statement in Rangoon said a banquet was held in Rangoon during the past week (on Tuesday) to mark the successful conclusion of talks between the two sides, as well as to mark Mr. Bo's 77th birthday.

The Karen National Union has been fighting for more than 50 years to establish an independent state in eastern Burma for ethnic Karens. The insurgency has been at a low level since the mid-1990's, when major government offensives greatly reduced the KNU's power.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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