Kurdish Rebels Press Turkey for Dialogue after Hamas Talks

ANKARA (AFP)–The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) called on Turkey to agree to dialogue with their group–accusing Ankara of having "double standards" since it had engaged in similar talks with the radical Palestinian group Hamas.

"Is it not blood that is shed in the fighting between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan freedom movement–just like in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?" asked senior PKK commander Murat Karayilan in an interview with the pro-Kurdish Firat News Agency.

"Why does not [Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah] Gul spend efforts to stop bloodshed in his own country? Is this not a contradiction?" he said in the interview published on the agency’s Internet site.

"Maybe it is because Kurds have carried out fewer suicide attacks [than Hamas]. This is double standards," he charged.

Karayilan argued that talks between Ankara and the PKK were not an "imaginary" or "far-off" possibility.

"They will talk to us. We are a people–we are a reality. They may refuse to talk to us now–but every refusal means wasting time," Karayilan asserted.

Some 37,000 people have been killed since 1984 when the PKK began an armed campaign against the Ankara government for self-rule in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

The group–blacklisted by Turkey–the United States and the European Union–has since abandoned its claim for statehood and is now calling for Kurdish autonomy within Turkey–amnesty for PKK militants–guaranteeing their participation in politics–and freedom for their jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Turkey categorically refuses to hold any talks with the PKK and has brushed aside the group’s latest deman’s.

Last week’s two-day visit by a Hamas delegation to Ankara drew harsh criticism from the Turkish press as well as Israel–Turkey’s main regional ally–which refuses to have any talks with a group committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

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