Middle East

Turkey's Kurdish peace process on track: ruling party

Kurdish people walk on the fields in Mursitpinar on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, overlooking Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

ISTANBUL: Turkey's ruling party said Thursday it was optimistic about the prospects for the peace process with Kurdish rebels after a spate of violence raised concern about its viability.

The spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Besir Atalay told reporters the government is about to complete a road map aimed at ending the three-decade old Kurdish insurgency.

His comments came a day after the expiry of a deadline set by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- whose rebellion for self-rule in southeast Turkey has claimed more than 40,000 lives -- for the government to come up with a road map.

"The road map has now largely been completed and we are sharing its details with the other (Kurdish) parties," Atalay told reporters in Ankara.

"New dialogues will be opened up soon and new meetings will be held... In the coming days you will see new developments about the peace process," he said.

"There are no setbacks. We will stick to the time frame we have set.

"We are sincere about the peace process and committed to moving it forward."

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence in an island prison in the sea of Marmara, had given the government until Wednesday to show it is serious about peace.

Kurdish rebels have been infuriated by the lack of action by Turkey against Islamic State (IS) jihadists trying to take the mainly Kurdish town of Kobani just across the Syrian border.

The PKK had warned of a return to violence if Kobani fell and the government did not unveil its road map by October 15.

At least 34 people were killed and 360 wounded earlier this month when Kurds took to the streets in several cities across Turkey to vent their anger at the government's Syria policy.

Tensions have flared anew after the military bombed PKK targets in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast on Monday. The PKK said those strikes had "violated the ceasefire" which it has largely observed since March 2013.

Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party said Wednesday it will hold talks with Iraq-based armed Kurdish rebels at the weekend and would then meet Ocalan for talks on his prison island of Imrali.

Asked about the reports that Ocalan would be moved to a prison which is more easily accessible, Atalay said: "It's not on our agenda. These claims are not true."

"It would not be right to say anything about this issue before the government announces the roadmap."





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