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Kurds say ready for ceasefire if Turkey negotiates

RIA Novosti

17/03/2008 13:35 ANKARA, March 17 (RIA Novosti) - The separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said it was ready to discuss a ceasefire with Turkish authorities if they were willing to negotiate, the Turkish newspaper Milliyet said on Monday.

Turkish authorities have consistently refused to enter into a dialogue with the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., NATO and the EU.

The newspaper quoted the party statement as saying: "We again call on the Turkish state and government for peace and dialogue and openly state that if our call is heard, we will take the responsibility to launch a new and nonviolent process in solving the Kurdish problem."

In late February over 10,000 Turkish troops were involved in a ground operation in northern Iraq targeted against PKK bases in the region. The eight-day operation killed around 240 Kurdish militants and 27 Turkish service personnel, and led to widespread criticism from western countries.

The General Staff acknowledged in a statement that the PKK had not been eliminated in the military incursion, but said they would continue to conduct ground operations in Iraq.

On March 13, Turkish troops killed 10 militants from the PKK in clashes near the Iraqi border.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous ethnic Kurd state in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed over 40,000 lives.

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