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DATE=11/2/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=TURKEY / KURDS (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-255737 BYLINE=AMBERIN ZAMAN DATELINE=ANKARA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Turkey's top military official says at least 700-rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, the P-K-K, have withdrawn from Turkish territory in recent months. But as Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, the commander in chief of Turkey's armed forces, Huseyin Kivrikoglu, says the rebels should not withdraw, but should surrender to Turkish authorities. TEXT: General Kivrikoglu said as many as 700 Kurdistan Workers' Party fighters have left Turkish soil in recent months for bases in Iran and Kurdish- controlled northern Iraq. He said it would be, in his words -- more meaningful for them to surrender with their weapons, rather than to withdraw. He said those who withdraw could always return. General Kivrikoglu made the comments in Diyarbakir the largest city in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast region. The Turkish army has been coordinating its 15-year battle against the P-K-K from the city. Turkish military officials say no more than 15-hundred rebels remain in Turkey, down from a peak number of 10-thousand in the early 1990's. The P-K-K fighters are apparently withdrawing in response to a call in September from their captured leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to halt their attacks and leave Turkey. The call is in line with Ocalan's efforts to prove to the Turkish government he is sincere about negotiating a peaceful end to the Kurdish rebellion he launched 15-years ago -- initially for Kurdish independence. In recent years Ocalan scaled back his goals to political and cultural autonomy. Since his capture by Turkish special forces in Kenya in February, Ocalan has been seeking to project himself as a man of peace, saying he all he wants is to help firm up Turkey's democracy. But Turkish officials say his sole aim is to avoid execution. They say they will never negotiate with a man they describe as -- a baby killer and terrorist. Ocalan was sentenced to death for treason by a Turkish court last June. An appeals court is reviewing the verdict and will announce its ruling November 25th. (SIGNED) NEB/AZ/JWH/RAE 02-Nov-1999 11:50 AM EDT (02-Nov-1999 1650 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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