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Ankara 'hopeful' for peace

Jan. 15, 2013 at 10:58 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The Turkish government is "cautious and hopeful" that efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue can move forward, the country's prime minister said Tuesday.

The bodies of three leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, slain last week in Paris, are scheduled to arrive Wednesday in Turkey for burial. Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the separatist movement, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, was among those found dead from a gunshot wound at a Kurdish center in Paris.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there is no justification for terrorism in his country, but the government was committed to peace initiatives with the PKK.

"We have never lost hope and will not," he was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying. "We are cautious and hopeful."

Ankara has reached out to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to find a solution to a crisis brewing since the 1980s. The prime minister said last week he suspected the shooting was an inside job carried out by hard-line PKK members working to derail peace talks.

European President Martin Schulz issued a statement to lawmakers this week saying the "brutal murder" of the PKK leaders must not go unpunished.

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