Channel NewsAsia

Turkey passes bill to revive Kurdish peace talks

Turkish lawmakers adopted a bill to revive peace talks with Kurdish rebels, state television reported, in a move that could rally the Kurdish minority vote to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push to win the presidency next month.

ANKARA: Turkish lawmakers on Thursday adopted a bill to revive peace talks with Kurdish rebels, state television reported, in a move that could rally the Kurdish minority vote to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push to win the presidency next month.

The six-article package of reforms proposed by Erdogan's government would grant immunity to key actors involved in peace negotiations with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the TRT network said.

It would also facilitate the rehabilitation of militants from the PKK who give up arms to return home to Turkey, and give the government the authority to appoint individuals and bodies to carry out talks regarding the so-called "Kurdish question".

The PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has welcomed the reforms as a "historic development".

Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government launched clandestine peace talks with the PKK in 2012 to end a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives over three decades.

The rebels declared a ceasefire in March 2013 but peace talks stalled in September, when the insurgents said they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil after accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms including constitutional recognition.

The presentation of the bill comes as Erdogan is running for the presidency. Backing from the country's Kurdish minority, who make up one fifth of the population, would secure him an outright victory in the first round of the polls due on August 10.

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