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Burma signs cease-fire with ethnic Karen rebels, taking step toward ending 63-year insurgency

The Burmese government has signed a cease-fire agreement with ethnic Karen rebels, taking a major step toward ending one of the world's longest-running insurgencies.

The government's peace committee met Thursday with leaders of the Karen National Union in the Karen state capital, Pa-an.

A government official at the talks told reporters: "A cease-fire agreement has been signed."

The negotiations were part of government efforts to end international isolation. Ending war with ethnic rebels is one of the conditions set by Western countries for improved relations.

Karen rebels have been fighting for autonomy for 63 years and were the only major group in Burma that had not reached a peace agreement with the government.