Myanmar president meets with rebels

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YANGON, Myanmar -- Myanmar's president has met with leaders of the Karen rebel movement in the latest sign of the government's determination to end one of the world's longest-running insurgencies.

Saturday's meeting between Thein Sein and leaders of the Karen National Union came a day after a government delegation agreed to firm up an earlier cease-fire while negotiating a more comprehensive plan.

A senior official said Karen leaders were flown to the capital Naypyitaw for the meeting, described as informal and friendly. The official gave no other details and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Thein Sein is seeking cease-fires with ethnic rebel groups as part of the political reforms started last year after decades of repression under military rule.

An adviser to Thein Sein said Myanmar wants the United States to ease sanctions faster after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said some restrictions on investment and financial services would be lifted.

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"They should do more if they want to see us reaching the mission faster," Nay Zin Latt told Bloomberg News yesterday. "The government is doing its job, which is national reconciliation and being a democratic society. This is the time giving more carrots will work more."

Also Saturday, the U.S. government nominated Derek Mitchell, the state department special envoy to Myanmar, as the first U.S. ambassador to the country since 1990, the Financial Times reported.

The appointment, which the newspaper said will be announced in the coming days, comes after the country held by-elections on April 1 that included democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mitchell was formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs.

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