Burma: Kachin rebels agree to peace talks

Burmese government negotiators and representatives from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) this week agreed to hold talks at Panghsang in northern Shan state, territory under the control of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), another rebel group that has entered into a peace deal.  The KIO, the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), accepted the plan Jan. 29. No official date has been set for the talks as government troops inch closer to Laiza after taking a key KIA hill station over the weekend, which served as the last line of strategic defense for the Kachin stronghold.

On Jan. 19, President Thein Sein announced a ceasefire, but it broke down within hours as the army renewed its offensive. The following day hundreds of troops closed in on Laiza. If Laiza falls, it could mark a turning point in the long struggle between the government and the Kach