Burma President Thein Sein meets Karen rebels

Karen rebels fighting the government in Burma have confirmed to the BBC that their leaders have met Burma's President Thein Sein.

It is the first such meeting between the two sides in one of the world's longest running civil conflicts.

Karen rebels have been fighting for self-rule for more than 60 years.

Western countries who have imposed sanctions on Burma have pressed the military-backed civilian government to end their various ethnic conflicts.

Last month, one of the leaders of the Karen rebel group was released by the Burmese authorities, days after being given a 20-year sentence for treason.

A spokeswoman for the Karen National Union (KNU) rebels described the talks as "warm and pleasant".

BBC South-East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says these latest talks are part of a major push by the Burmese authorities to make deals with the various separatist groups in the country.

They have already signed a number of provisional ceasefires.

Thousands of people have been displaced by decades of sporadic fighting between the two sides, many being housed in refugee camps across the border in Thailand.

After decades of brutal military rule, the generals handed over to a civilian-led administration under Thein Sein in March 2011.

The new government has made several political reforms - last month a number of by-elections were held, one of which returned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

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