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.

Thein Sein is the first Burmese president to hold direct talks with the Karen rebelsKaren 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 independence for more than 60 years.

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 rebels described the talks as "warm and pleasant".

BBC South-East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says the 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.