Source AP ©

Jailed leader of Kurdish rebel group PKK wants to negotiate with Turkish government

The jailed leader of the Kurdish rebel group PKK wants to address the Turkish government to end years of fighting.

Turkey has ruled out talks with the rebels, labeling them terrorists, and the statement by Abdullah Ocalan was unlikely to yield a breakthrough in the conflict. Ocalan has made similar appeals for peace in the past, and Turkish authorities have accused his group of proposing peace only as a way to gain political leverage.

Ocalan, who was arrested in 1999 and is serving a life sentence on an island prison, delivered his message through his lawyers, who visited him Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 26, the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency reported.

"We are up for any democratic solution. I'm reaching out to them for peace again," Ocalan told his lawyers, according to Firat. The rebel, who says Kurds should have more rights, appealed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer suggestions for how to achieve peace.

"If they really want a solution, then there can be a constitution that Kurds agree with as well," Ocalan was quoted as saying. "They can tell the PKK: 'Come, contribute to this constitution's preparation process."

Ocalan said he was distressed by the deaths of soldiers in fighting with the PKK. Rebels killed 12 soldiers in an ambush on Oct. 21.

"Clashes are continuing," Ocalan said. "I'm really upset by the death of the soldiers as well."

Ocalan, whose group launched guerrilla warfare in 1984, was held responsible for the deaths of numerous Turkish soldiers and civilians, as well as Kurdish villagers accused of collaborating with the government.

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