Kurds upbeat on PKK peace prospects

Sept. 19, 2013 at 10:50 AM

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A settlement between the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Turkish government is still on the table, a pro-Kurdish lawmaker said.

Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the militant group known by its Kurdish initials PKK, in March called on his fighters to leave Turkey as part of a peace initiative brokered with the government. Military leaders of the PKK said in early September there were suspending the withdrawal because the Turkish government wasn't serious about a settlement.

Ocalan this week issued a letter saying he was eager to keep the settlement process moving forward. Conflict simmering for more than a decade has left thousands of people dead on both sides.

Deputy Chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party Selahattin Demirtas said Thursday the PKK leader wanted a new role in the peace process.

"Maybe there is a delay in the timeline but I can say that there is a ground for negotiations," he was quoted as saying by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman.

The Turkish government is mulling a package of reforms meant to allay Kurdish concerns about minority rights. Demirtas said the measure was under review based on Ankara's "own sensitivities" to the so-called Kurdish question and not those of the minority Kurds.

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