PKK leader set to call ceasefire in peace deal

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Jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan will call a ceasefire at the Kurdish New Year next month, moving forward a peace process with Turkey aimed at ending his group’s 28-year insurgency, reports from Ankara have said.

Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan said a planned withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants from Turkey after a ceasefire was established would begin the process of ending a conflict which has killed more than 40,000 people.

Mr Erdogan – criticised in some quarters for negotiating with Ocalan, a man reviled by most Turks – called for national unity on peace efforts.

Ocalan, 63, has been holding peace talks with Turkey since last October. At the weekend, he met a delegation of Kurdish politicians a on the island of Imrali near Istanbul, where he has been held in near isolation since his capture in 1999.

At those talks, he signalled the PKK may release state officials it is holding, according to a statement read by the politicians. Several newspapers yesterday reported details of a timetable to end the conflict.