World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called on French President Francois Hollande to explain why he had met Kurdish militants with links to the PKK - viewed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the United States - who were shot dead this week in Paris.
Hollande has said that one of the victims, three women with links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was known to him.
The execution-style killings in central Paris on Thursday have overshadowed a new initiative by Erdogan's government to launch a peace process to end the PKK's 28-year-old insurgency against Turkey.
"France needs to shed light on this incident," Erdogan said in a speech to a businessmen's group on Saturday. "The French president needs to explain to the public in Turkey and the world why he met with members of a terrorist organisation."
His comments were broadcast live by CNN Turk television.
Erdogan also said that Turkey was expecting French state to find the suspects after slaying of three Kurdish women in Paris.
Three Kurdish women were found dead on Thursday morning at Kurdish Information Center in Paris, reportedly shot in the head in what appeared to be an execution-style killing.
One of the victims was identified as Sakine Cansiz, one of the founding members of the PKK organization.
Turkish intelligence officials have been conducting talks with the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, in a bid to disarm the PKK.
The conflict between PKK and Turkish troops has cost thousands of lives since 1984.
"Meanwhile, French president said they were regularly holding talks with these people in the center. How can France hold talks with these people who are members of PKK that was also declared terrorist organization by the EU," said Erdogan.
Noting that Sakine Cansiz had been detained in Germany in 2007, Erdogan said that she was released despite Turkey's extradition demand.
We sent a message to French Interpol on November 5, 2012 and informed them this terrorist was staying in Paris, but France did not take any steps, said Erdogan.
Erdogan said that French president should explain why they were holding talks with those terrorists and what they were talking about.
"The French president should immediately disclose to the public why he met with members of this terrorist organisation, what was discussed, to what end he was in communication with these terrorists," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey would pursue unspecified legal measures on the matter.
Erdogan said the killings may be the result of PKK infighting or an attempt to derail Turkey's efforts to end the Kurdish conflict, which has implications for Syria, Iran and Iraq with their ethnic Kurdish minorities.
"The killings in Paris may have been an attempt aimed at sabotaging this initiative. It may also be score-settling within the ranks of the separatist terrorist group," he said.
He rejected allegations by Kurdish rebels and activists that elements from the Turkish state were behind the killings and demanded French authorities apprehend those behind the attack and shed light on the incident at once.
French investigators gave no immediate indication as to who might be responsible.
Erdogan pledged to continue efforts to end the conflict.
Since his party came to power in 2002, it has expanded political and cultural rights for Turkey's estimated 15 million Kurds to create a basis for ending a war that has held back the country's economic and democratic progress.
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"It is not possible for us to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood," said Erdogan, who told a news conference in Ankara ahead of his departure on an official visit to China.
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