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U.S. lauds Kurdish reconciliation in Turkey

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Washington supports efforts by the Turkish government to reconcile its differences with the Kurdish minority, U.S. State Department officials said.

Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, called on members of his blacklisted organization to form "peace groups" in an effort to resolve the so-called Kurdish question.

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Ankara is pushing forward with its own plans to find a political solution to its decades-old conflict with Kurdish minorities and the PKK separatist group.

As many as 34 PKK members from the Makhmur refugee camp in northern Iraq turned themselves over of their own free will this week.

Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that while Washington considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization for its militant activity in the region, the reconciliation effort was a welcome move.

"We support the efforts of our Turkish allies to deal with the problem of the PKK," he said.

He went on to call on Ankara to offer cultural and language rights to the Kurdish minority as part of a broader reconciliation effort.

The U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control last week froze the assets of three leaders of the PKK identified as "significant foreign narcotics traffickers."

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