Basques Asked to Reconsider Kurdish Invitation

MADRID (Reuters)–Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar urged the Basque Parliament on Thursday to reconsider the invitation it extended to the Kurdish "parliament in exile" to meet in the Basque region this July.

Aznar said the regional legislature’s decision to let the Kurdish body meet in the Basque region’s capital could hurt trade and business.

"Even if it were only for that reason–I appeal to the common sense or those who can change the situation," Aznar said after talks with visiting French Prime minister Lionel Jospin.

The central government has already said it regrets the move–but Madrid has limited powers to prevent the planned event.

The Basque legislature–dominated by nationalists seeking independence–on Tuesday approved a meeting of the group in Vitoria in July.

The Kurdish group–based in Brussels–meets in various European cities every few months and is made up of more than 60 representatives–many of whom live in Europe. Previous meetings have coused tension between Turkey and the host nation.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan–Turkey’s most wanted fugitive–has been refused entry to a number of European countries in the last month after unsuccessfully seeking political asylum in Italy.

More than 29,000 people have been killed in 14 years of conflict between Turkish security forces and the PKK–fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeastern provinces.

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