Burma: Karen leaders urge President to cease Kachin war
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Burma: Karen leaders urge President to cease Kachin war

President U Thein Sein met the Chairman of Karen National Union (KNU) General Mutu Sae Phoe in Pobbathiri Township in Nay Pyi Taw Council Area Saturday, The New Light of Myanmar reported Sunday.

Thein Sein said that he is committed to creating lifelong peace during his term and expressed his confidence on the KNU’s pledge on the peace deal, a sentiment echoed by the KNU chairman.

However, General Mutu Sae Phoe did raise concerns about the government’s assault on Kachin ethnic rebels in northern Burma. He said the KNU is considering how it can help stop hostilities in Kachin State. Participants from both sides discussed the continuation of peace talks, ceasefire, liaison offices and regional development programs, according to the state-run media.

Burma’s President said his government has been trying to agree a ceasefire with the KIA, adding that the government does not want to pass on the conflict to the next generations and wishes to end it in its time. He expressed these sentiments as reports emerged of artillery strikes by government forces on Kachin HQ Laiza.

Thein Sein Government has signed ceasefire with the Karen National Union in order to take advantage of the Dawei development project since Thailand’s Italian-Thai Development Co. Ltd. (ITD) reached an agreement with the KNU. The multi-billion-dollar Dawei deep sea port project includes a cross border road to Thailand that passes through an area controlled by the KNU’s armed troops. Some people think peace deal with KNU is actually based on the business benefits rather than national reconciliation.

On 17 December 2012, President Thein Sein and the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra held talks on the Dawei project, accessibility of communication channels and electricity, maintenance of environment, capitals and investments, invitation of investments from third countries and data compilation about the development project.

On 24 December 2012, President Thein Sein received a Chinese delegation led by Zhang Guoqing, who is the President of China North Industries Corporation- NORINCO, at the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw, according to The New Light of Myanmar.  Some analysts say the war against the Kachin rebels is closely related with the natural resources in the region, which China is keen to exploit.

The most important Chinese project is the 771-kilometer-long gas-and-oil pipeline across Kyaukphru in Rakhine state to Ruili on the China border. Besides, heavy fighting took place often all along KIO-controlled territory between Namtu and Mandong townships where the twin oil-and-gas pipelines go across.

Successive Burmese regimes have dismissed the Kachin rebels’ demand for equality while robbing the state of its precious natural resources. Most of the natural resources are exploited by the neighboring China which manipulates Burma’s domestic crisis.