Ankara shrugs off PKK initiative

Sept. 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- There is nothing in recent statements from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan worthy of a formal comment, a Turkish official said Monday.

Ocalan in March called on his fighters to leave Turkey as part of a peace initiative brokered with the government. Cemil Bayik, leader of the military arm of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, said in early September his fighters were suspending their withdrawal because the Turkish government wasn't living up to its end of the bargain.

In a weekend statement, the jailed leader said the process could resume "with thorough negotiations," Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman reported. The newspaper said Ocalan provided no updates on the withdrawal process.

Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, told Today's Zaman there was nothing to Ocalan's statements.

"It's not something that's worth commenting on," he said.

Kurdish leaders said they were frustrated by the lack of security guarantees from the government. The government said fewer than 20 percent of the PKK guerrillas have left the country.

Thousands of people on both sides were killed during the 30-year conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government. The PKK is pressing for more rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey.

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