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Prime Minister hopes for peace with Kurdish rebels

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 19, 2013 at 9:10 am •  Published: March 19, 2013

"Whatever step we take, we take it for (the welfare) of the people and the country," Erdogan said.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and Europe and Ocalan is serving a life sentence for leading the insurgency. He said in a message relayed by Kurdish legislators on Monday that he would outline all the "military and political steps" of the peace process on Thursday.

But Ocalan also suggested that Turkey's parliament needed to take steps to advance the peace process.

Kurds want the government to carry out reforms that would increase Kurdish rights. The Hurriyet newspaper said Ocalan was also seeking guarantees that his rebel fighters would not be attacked as they withdraw from Turkey to bases in northern Iraq.

Turkish forces reportedly attacked PKK guerrillas as they retreated in 1999 while obeying orders from Ocalan who had appealed for peace soon after his capture that year, as well as during another unilateral decision to withdraw in 2004. The PKK has declared unilateral cease-fires on several occasions in the past but they were ignored by the state.

Turkey's Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said the rebels' withdrawal would likely start this month and continue to the end of the year.