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Mixed messages in PKK withdrawal

April 5, 2013 at 9:30 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, April 5 (UPI) -- There's been no clear message that the planned withdrawal of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party from Turkey will be weapons-free, a Kurdish lawmaker said.

Members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party visited Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the militant group known by its Kurdish initials, PKK. He's been detained on an island prison since his capture in 1999.

Last month, Ocalan called for an end to a separatist campaign targeting the Turkish military. Party Co-Chairman Selahattin Demirtas said Ocalan was committed to a settlement.

"He did not give us a clear message for the weapons-free withdrawal of the PKK," he was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying.

Ocalan asked the lawmakers that no "drop of blood be shed during the settlement process."

Senior PKK member Cemil Bayik said the movement was reluctant to proceed without legal guarantees. He said similar efforts at peace in the 1990s ended when Turkish forces attacked militants seeking to suspend operations.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the ruling Justice and Development Party that such legal guarantees from Parliament weren't expected.

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