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Kurds united, Turkish party leader says

Oct. 14, 2013 at 10:31 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Staying out of a weekly delegation to meet jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan doesn't translate to party division, a pro-Kurdish lawmaker said Monday.

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

Demirtas was not among the party members who left Monday to discuss Kurdish peace prospects with Ocalan, Turkey's daily newspaper Today's Zaman reports. He said that didn't mean his party was unraveling.

"There is no crisis in the party," he said. "There is also no dissidence in our party."

Pro-Kurdish leaders, including Demirtas, have expressed frustration with the pace of the peace initiative. Today's Zaman reported the ruling Justice and Democracy Party made Demirtas stay behind because he was critical of a recent reform agenda.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a package of reforms on Kurdish rights in early October.

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