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Turkey's Erdogan rules out amnesty for Kurdish rebels

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out on Sunday a general amnesty for Kurdish rebels amid renewed peace talks between the country's secret services and jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

"We are not entitled to pardon murderers. We will not interfere in such a thing," Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

Turkey's spy agency resumed negotiations with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Ocalan late last year with an ultimate goal of disarming the rebel movement, which is branded as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Ocalan has been serving a life sentence at Imrali prison on an island off Istanbul since his capture in Nairobi in 1999.

Around 45,000 people are believed to have been killed in 29 years of fighting between Turkish security forces and the PKK, which took up arms in 1984 for self-rule in Turkey's Kurdish majority southeast.

The government led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is under pressure to stem the violence. Erdogan has said he is determined to settle the Kurdish conflict and will guarantee safe passage for rebels wishing to leave the country.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130303/turkeys-erdogan-rules-out-amnesty-kurdish-rebels