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Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK

World: Europe

Kurds' armed wing calls truce

The rebels are thought to be on their way to northern Iraq

The armed wing of the PKK, the Kurdish rebel movement in Turkey, has said it will stop fighting and withdraw from the country to comply with a call by its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The Ocalan File
The United States had earlier cast doubt on a PKK pledge to end its 15-year armed struggle, calling for action not words.

"From 1 September we will start to implement the plan envisaged by our comrade leader Abdullah Ocalan," said a statement by the Kurdistan Peoples' Liberation Front (ARGK).

The BBC's Chris Morris: "Pressure may increase on Turkey"
"Outside of making use of our legitimate right to self-defence against attacks made under the assumption that our realising the plan is a weakness, there will be no armed action on the part of our forces," the statement said.

[ image: Mr Ocalan has appealed against his death sentence]
Mr Ocalan has appealed against his death sentence
The statement followed a similar endorsement of Mr Ocalan's call by the PKK leadership council, which includes both the ARGK and the movement's political wing, the ERNK.

The ARGK statement did not say where its forces were planning to withdraw.

Northern Iraq, where the PKK already has several bases, is widely thought to be its most likely choice.

[ image:  ]
But Turkish newspapers have pointed out that northwestern Iran is also a possibility.

The council has run the party since its leader was detained by Turkish special forces in Kenya in February.

The prevailing view in Turkey is that the PKK leader is doing whatever he can to save his own life after being sentenced to death for treason at the end of June.

[ image:  ]
The verdict is now before the court of appeals.

However, there is widespread public pressure in Turkey for the death sentence to be carried out.

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