October 16, 2014 / 7:59 AM / 4 years ago

German foreign minister denies arming PKK is an option

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s foreign minister ruled out the possibility of arming the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Thursday, after a senior ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested this could help efforts to defeat Islamic State (IS) militants.

German Chancellor and leader of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel (R) listens to party's faction leader Volker Kauder during a meeting of party leaders in Berlin, August 26, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

“There is no question of that as long as the PKK threatens Turkey with fresh violence,” said Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during an interview broadcast on Twitter.

Germany is sending weapons to Kurds in northern Iraq but Merkel has ruled out supporting the PKK, which has spent decades fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds and is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and United States.

Turkey, which has so far resisted pressure to join U.S.-led efforts to fight IS militants in northern Iraq and Syria, would oppose a move by European allied to arm the PKK.

But Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats in parliament, told Spiegel Online: “I know the problems that Turkey has with the PKK, but to sit back and watch as IS takes important border towns and develops increasingly into a threat for global security cannot be the solution.”

“I do not rule out supporting other groups. But this would have to be done with Turkey, not against it. That also applies to support for the PKK,” added Kauder, whose party governs Germany in coalition with Steinmeier’s Social Democrats.

Reporting by Stephen Brown and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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