US backing talks with imprisoned PKK chief

US backing talks with imprisoned PKK chief

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
US backing talks with imprisoned PKK chief

This file photo shows the vessel carrying visitors to İmralı İsland, where Öcalan is serving a life sentence. Turkey’s intelligence chief met with Öcalan last month. DHA photo

The United States affirmed its support of the Turkish government’s fresh attempt to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and terrorism through dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and encouraged Turkey to diversify its methods against terrorism.

“These talks are a positive development. We encourage Turkey to tackle domestic terrorism from multiple angles, taking a broad approach in engagement with the Kurds and other marginalized communities,” Washington said of the new process launched by Ankara.

In a bid to end the four-decade-old Kurdish question and disarm the PKK, the Turkish government sent Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan to İmralı İsland, where Öcalan is serving a life sentence. Öcalan was later allowed to meet with two prominent Kurdish politicians.

In clear support of the new peace process launched by Ankara, Washington noted that it continues to stand with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, maintaining support of the government’s efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms while at the same time stressing the importance of observing human rights.

Washington has been vocal in encouraging the Turkish government to use democratic means to solve the Kurdish question, apart from its armed struggle against terrorists. A politically inclusive approach that would ensure individual rights was highlighted by prominent American officials, in a particular reference to the new Constitution being drafted in Parliament.

The U.S. has been providing real-time intelligence to Turkey since late 2007, increasing the capacity of Turkish security forces in their fight against the PKK.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington, Namık Tan, appreciated the U.S. support to this end, but added that “they could do more considering their experience in combating terror.” For Tan, the support to be delivered by Washington would facilitate Turkey’s efforts to solve the Kurdish problem in light of the new process. “One should not forget, the region is passing through a tectonic transformation. The only country that could maintain its stability is Turkey. Turkey should get rid of this terror trouble in order to accomplish this transformation. The U.S. is aware of this and has the will to support Turkey,” he said.