Burma’s government signed a cease-fire agreement Thursday with ethnic Karen rebels in a major step toward ending one of the world’s longest-running insurgencies and meeting a key condition for better ties with the West.
The talks between officials and Karen National Union leaders were part of efforts by Burma’s new, nominally civilian government to seek international legitimacy through democratic reforms after years of military repression.
The Karen group has been fighting for greater autonomy for more than 60 years, in a guerrilla campaign in eastern jungles that dates back to before Burma’s independence from Britain. It has been the only one of Burma’s major ethnic groups never to have reached a peace agreement with the government.
“A cease-fire agreement has been signed,” Aung Min, head of the government’s peace committee, told reporters in the Karen capital Pa-an after the talks.