U.S. upbeat on Turkey's prospects

May 3, 2013 at 12:06 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, May 3 (UPI) -- While the U.S. government won't comment on Turkish internal affairs, there is a keen sense of optimism about its future, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey said.

Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the group known by its Kurdish initials PKK, called on militants to leave Turkish territory following discussions with government officials.

Murat Karayilan, the PKK military commander, said a new era would begin with the gradual withdrawal fighters starting next week.

The U.S. government lists the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said he wasn't going to comment on Turkey's internal affairs but was upbeat in general on the country's prospects.

"We are thoroughly optimistic about Turkey. We are optimistic about its future, its culture and democracy and we support Turkey," he was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying. "We stand by Turkey."

Turkey is a key NATO ally. The alliance has missile systems deployed along the Turkish border to protect against spillover from the Syrian war.

Pro-Kurdish lawmakers in Turkey said the militants would get political training in northern Iraq when they leave.

Conflicts between the PKK and the Turkish military claimed about 40,000 lives since in the 1980s.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Pilot in Taiwan plane crash shut down wrong engine, black boxes show
Texas police body cam video shows fatal shooting
Law enforcement gives 'all clear' after U.S. Navy Yard lockdown
Hess completes Bakken joint venture
Talks with NKorea come with conditions, says White House advisor