Kurdish leader calls talks 'historic step'

AP News
Posted: Feb 23, 2013 12:55 PM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has called talks with Turkish officials aiming to halt a decades-long conflict a historic step and urged all sides involved to show "care and sensitivity."

His brief message was conveyed Saturday by three pro-Kurdish legislators who were allowed to travel to his prison island off Istanbul to confer about the peace process.

The government declared in December that it was holding talks with Ocalan with the goal of convincing the rebels to declare a cease-fire, withdraw from Turkey and disarm.

Legislator Pervin Buldan told reporters Ocalan also expressed hope officials and soldiers kidnapped by the rebels would soon be released.

Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, is fighting for self-rule in southeast Turkey. The conflict has killed tens of thousands since 1984.