Gen. Sumlut Gun Maw, ice chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Army. Pic: AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A leader of ethnic Kachin rebels fighting Burma government forces is urging U.S. involvement in peace talks to quell decades of conflict in the country’s lawless border regions.

Renewed clashes this month come despite efforts to forge a nationwide cease-fire agreement between the government and all armed ethnic groups. Gen. Sumlut Gun Maw says the spike in violence is an effort by Burma’s army to militarily weaken the Kachin forces before any ceasefire is signed.

Gun Maw is vice chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Army. He spoke Monday to The Associated Press as he wrapped up a trip to Washington to meet with senior U.S. officials.

Burma state media has reported at least 22 people have died in fighting. Humanitarian groups say hundreds of villagers have been uprooted.