Turkey's Erdogan says Kurds have not withdrawn as agreed

August 17, 2013 16:45

ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has failed to withdraw its fighters from Turkey as agreed, a condition for Kurdish rights to be expanded as part of a peace process.

Erdogan did not say what this meant for the process, seen by many as the best chance yet to end a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, since 1984, but indicated that a Kurdish rights package would be unveiled soon.

"The promises made by the PKK to withdraw from Turkish soil have not been fulfilled," the newspaper Vatan quoted him as saying on his way back from Turkmenistan late on Friday.

"Only 20 percent have left Turkey, and they are mostly women and children."

The PKK feared its fighters, estimated at around 2,000, would be attacked as they withdrew to bases in the northern Iraqi mountains, but so far a ceasefire declared in March has largely held. The PKK has not said how many of its fighters have left, but says clashes could resume if Ankara does not take concrete steps by the start of September.

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