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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK

World: Europe

Ocalan orders PKK out of Turkey

Abdullah Ocalan's capture sparked protests worldwide

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of Turkey's Kurdish separatist rebels has called on his fighters to halt their attacks by 1 September and withdraw to bases outside Turkey.

The Ocalan File
He said a ceasefire would ease the deadlock over the Kurdish question and open the way to dialogue on a democratic solution.

The statement was read to reporters by his lawyer, who said Mr Ocalan had dictated it in prison following his death sentence for treason.

BBC's Chris Morris: The PKK is increasingly desperate
It is the first time Mr Ocalan has urged his fighters to withdraw from Turkey and BBC regional analyst Pam O'Toole says it is unclear how the leadership council of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will react.

It has previously shown little enthusiasm for abandoning its guerrilla campaign without moves by Turkey towards a political settlement of the Kurdish problem, the analyst adds.

In his statement Mr Ocalan says: "I express my belief that in this way a new stage of dialogue and conciliation will develop."

[ image: Abdulah Ocalan: Captured by the Turkish secret service in February]
Abdulah Ocalan: Captured by the Turkish secret service in February
He called on foreign governments and international organisations to support "a process of peace and fraternity" in Turkey.

In his statement Mr Ocalan makes no reference to any countries PKK fighters could withdraw to.

When asked his lawyer said it would be up to the PKK to make that decision.

Mr Ocalan's latest statement follows similar ones released during his trial in June when he suggested that he could help in a negotiated solution to the Kurdish problem.

The offer was ignored by the Turkish authorities. Mr Ocalan was sentenced to death for separatism and treason relating to his organisation's 14-year struggle.

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