Myanmar's leader lauds army role in Kachin conflict
YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar's president has defended the army's response to the ethnic Kachin rebellion, state media reported on Friday, despite a recent escalation of violence that has further dimmed peace prospects.
The rebels say Myanmar's military has stepped up operations over recent days as it pushes towards their stronghold of Laiza, while the United States and the United Nations last week condemned Myanmar's use of air strikes on the war-torn northern state.
But President Thein Sein praised the Tatmadaw - Myanmar's army - for its "sacrifices in blood and sweat", adding it had done everything possible "to make positive contributions to the peace process".
Some experts have cast doubt over the level of control Thein Sein, a former general, exerts over army units in Kachin after an order to end military offensives in December 2011 was apparently ignored.