Myanmar rebels, government to hold talks in China on Monday
LAIZA, Myanmar (AP) - Myanmar's government and ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Myanmar said Sunday that they would hold talks in China this week after some of the worst fighting in the country in years.
The talks will begin Monday in the Chinese border town of Ruili, officials on both sides said. The meeting comes after the army captured several strategic guerrilla-held hilltops this month in the hills around Laiza, which serves as a headquarters for the rebel movement.
The army used fighter jets, helicopter gunships and intense artillery barrages to seize the rebel outposts during its offensive, and there has been speculation that the government launched the assault to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table.
Laiza has been largely quiet since government troops took control of Hka Ya Bhum, the highest hill in the area, on Jan 26. However, Kachin Independence Army officers have reported at least one brief skirmish in the region as well as clashes elsewhere in Kachin state.