Turkey says it expects PKK terrorists to leave country by autumn

June 28, 2013 at 5:03 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, June 28 (UPI) -- A Turkish government official said the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party is expected to complete its withdrawal from Turkey by autumn.

Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, said Thursday the settlement process begun in 2012 to end Turkey's longstanding terrorism issues is moving ahead without major problems, and the government expects the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, to leave Turkey.

Negotiations began in October 2012 with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who in March 2013 advised his followers to lay down arms and leave Turkey. Terrorists began withdrawing by May, the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported Friday.

There are concerns the withdrawal is going too slowly. Thursday Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said only 15 percent of PKK members had left Turkey since May 2013, and Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas said 80 percent of PKK members were still in the country.

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