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Optimism high for talks with PKK

Published By United Press International
ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Officials expressed optimism about talks between Turkish leaders and the Kurdistan Workers' Party chief, despite the prime minister's opposition to some issues.

Discussions between state officials and Abdullah Ocalan, head of the terror organization known by the initials PKK, to broker a deal for disarming the group have been ongoing -- even though Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he opposes Ocalan being placed under house arrest and granting general amnesty for terrorists, which are among the talking points, Sunday's Zaman reported.

Erdogan said during a news conference Sunday talks with the PKK leader aren't new.

"Our struggle is to be successful in the fight against terror," he said. "We will be successful if we join our hands. We have not managed this so far. We have not received the support of the print media or the civil society yet."

Ocalan, imprisoned on Imrali Island in the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul since his capture in 1999, has major influence among PKK members and supporters, Sunday's Zaman said. Turkish leaders have said they believe talks with the terrorist chief may result in a timetable for withdrawal of PKK terrorists from Turkey and organization's disarmament.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and many other nations, has been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Kurdish Anatolia region since 1984. More than 40,000 people are estimated to have died in the fighting.
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Race winner Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain (C) stands between second place finisher Christopher Froome of Great Britain (L) and third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali of Italy on the presentation podium following the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on July 22, 2012. Wiggins of Great Britain became that country's first ever overall winner of the Tour de France. UPI/David Silpa