BDP leader returns to Turkey with Kandil's response to Ocalan

Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas has brought a letter of response from Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in Kandil -- a mountainous area in northern Iraq where the PKK's main camp is located -- written in reply to a letter from PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan.

Demirtas and two other BDP deputies -- Pervin Buldan and Sirri Sureyya Onder -- met with PKK leader Ocalan on April 3 on Imrali Island, where Ocalan has been imprisoned since his capture in 1999, as part of ongoing talks aimed at resolving Turkey's long-standing terrorism problem.

During the meeting Ocalan gave a letter to the delegation to be forwarded to PKK commanders based in Kandil. Demirtas and Onder flew to northern Iraq on Friday and delivered the letter to its addressees. The BDP deputies then returned Turkey with a letter from the PKK commanders in response.

Turkish state authorities have been holding settlement negotiations with Ocalan since last October with the aim of achieving a timetable for the disarmament of PKK terrorists. Ocalan has significant influence among PKK members and supporters and the state believes that talks with the terrorist head will achieve their goals of a withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkey and in the long run, full disarmament.

The letter will be given to Ocalan in a matter of days, reports said.

In a historic message on March 21, Ocalan called on the PKK to declare a cease-fire and withdraw from Turkey. Since then, how the terrorists will leave the country has become a hot topic of discussion.

PKK supporters say Parliament should pass a law to ensure the safe withdrawal of PKK terrorists from Turkish soil, while the government fears passing a law for the PKK would mean officially recognizing the terrorist group and de facto granting it international legal status.

In his letter, Ocalan was expected to tell the PKK's militants in Kandil that they need not worry about attacks from the Turkish military while leaving Turkish territory, highlighting the determination of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government to reach a settlement. The contents of Ocalan's letter have not been disclosed.