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Pro-Kurdish leaders met EU officials

May 29, 2013 at 10:13 AM

BRUSSELS, May 29 (UPI) -- Peace in southern Turkey could open the door to nationwide prospects for prosperity, European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said.

Fule met in Brussels with Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, known by its Turkish initials BDP.

The meeting follows the start of the withdrawal of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, from Turkey. Armed guerrillas started arriving in northern Iraq following negotiations between jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish authorities.

Fule said the issue was a vital component of settling lingering issues about Kurdish rights in southern Turkey.

"Ending terrorism is a key objective which will allow the Kurdish issue to be solved, bringing peace and prosperity to southeast Turkey," he said in a statement. "I consider the BDP an important and constructive stakeholder in the peace process and in the continuation of reforms."

The European Union said settling the Kurdish issue would help with Turkey's ambitions to move closer to the 27-member bloc.

"I stressed once more that the EU stands ready to assist ... in turning the eventual peace deal into opportunity for the whole South East of the country," Fule said.

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