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New deal to cease fighting with Shan rebels: Myanmar

KENGTUNG, Myanmar -- A Myanmar negotiator says ethnic Shan rebels have agreed in a second round of talks to end fighting with army troops in the country's east, the latest reported deal between the new reformist government and various ethnic separatist movements.

Negotiator Aung Min, who is also the country's railway minister, said he discussed enforcing a December cease-fire and eradicating drugs in eastern Myanmar in talks with Yawd Serk, leader of the Shan State Army (South).

He told reporters Saturday night after the talks in the Shan State capital, Kengtung, that recent clashes were a result of misunderstanding over the firing of warning shots.

“After detailed negotiations today, there will be no more fighting,” Aung Min said.

Myanmar President Thein Sein's government has reached cease-fires with several ethnic rebel groups, but fierce fighting continues with the Kachin minority in northern Myanmar, with whom peace talks have so far failed.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Sunday reported that the Kachin guerrillas had blown up several electricity pylons on Friday. “So, electric power supply will be reduced for a while across the nation as personnel concerned are trying to repair the towers as possibly quick as they can,” it said.

Much of Myanmar has long suffered from frequent power shortages, due to resource mismanagement that predates the fighting.

The state press has recently been highlighting such attacks in an apparent propaganda ploy to pin the blame on the Kachin for the continuing fighting. Thein Sein late last year issued an order for the army to cease its offensive against the Kachin, but it has not been effective.

Since taking office last year as a military-backed but elected president, Thein Sein has moved to roll back many of the repressive actions of the military regimes that preceded him.

His efforts have included reconciliation with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy movement and also the long-running problem of ethnic rebellions.

Myanmar's ethnic minorities, who are clustered mostly in border areas, have long sought greater autonomy.

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