Turkey says it will hold talks with Kurdish militants

Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:06am EST
 
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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey will hold talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said on Monday, fuelling hopes of moves to resolve a decades-old conflict after the end of a hunger strike by its members.

Hundreds of PKK inmates ended a 68-day hunger strike in jails across Turkey on Sunday in response to an appeal from their jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, reportedly following discussions he held with Turkish intelligence agency officials.

Ergin did not specify when talks might take place but the state has held secret discussions with senior PKK representatives in Oslo in recent years. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in September more talks were possible.

"These talks have been held as and when deemed necessary in the past, and will be held in the future," Ergin said. He did not elaborate.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in 28 years of fighting between Turkey and the PKK - designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

Fighting between the PKK and Turkish forces surged over the summer. Ankara has linked the renewed hostilities to the conflict in neighboring Syria and accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of arming the PKK.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Jon Boyle)