Turkey, Ocalan map out steps to end Kurdish conflict

Tue Jan 8, 2013 10:48am EST
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By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Turkish government and the jailed leader of a Kurdish insurgency have agreed on the framework for a plan to end a war that has killed 40,000 people since 1984, envisaging rebel disarmament in exchange for increased minority rights, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

The Radikal daily said senior intelligence officials had held meetings with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) chief Abdullah Ocalan in his island jail near Istanbul, yielding a four-stage plan to halt the conflict.

Previous negotiations with the PKK were highly secretive and appeared to have run aground. The open acknowledgment of the latest contact has raised hopes for a renewed peace effort, including from the main pro-Kurdish party in parliament.

"Meeting with Ocalan...is a correct step, it's logical and appropriate," Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas told members of his party in the assembly in Ankara.

"Peace in Turkey can only begin with this step."

Radikal said that after an initial end to hostilities the PKK fighters would withdraw from Turkish territory, after which disarmament talks would begin, before a final process of the militants laying down their weapons.

Ocalan will prepare four letters setting out his vision for a solution to the conflict to be addressed to the BDP, to the PKK commanders in northern Iraq, to Europe, where many PKK activists are based, and to the Turkish public, Radikal said.

The "roadmap" would involve releasing from custody thousands of people accused of PKK links.   Continued...

Demonstrators take part in a protest in favor of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in Strasbourg February 18, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler