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11:29, 13 October 2012 Saturday

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Kurdish groups threatens France after PKK leader arrested
Kurdish groups threatens France after PKK leader arrested

A French official at the public prosecutor's office said Uzun, who had been under surveillance for several months, was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the purchase of anti-tank missiles for PKK

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Kurdish National Congress, a coalition of Kurdish groups across Europe, said on Friday it considered the arrest of one of its members in France as a "head-on attack" against the Kurdish people to satisfy Turkey.

Adem Uzun, deemed by Ankara to be the main leader in Europe of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) armed separatist group, was detained this week pending trial on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist association and trying to acquire weapons.

"With this arrest, France has met the expectations of (Turkish Prime Minister) Erdogan," the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) said in a statement.

"The KNK considers the arrest of Adem Uzun to be a head on attack against the Kurdish people and we hope the French state will reverse this decision."

A French official at the public prosecutor's office said Uzun, who had been under surveillance for several months, was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the purchase of anti-tank missiles for his organisation, including one contract worth 1.2 million euros ($1.56 million).

The official said Uzun and two other men belonged to the PKK and had been detained as part of the investigation. Ankara had not yet asked for his extradition, the official said.

A government source in Ankara said he was wanted by Turkish authorities.

Another arm of the PKK, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), threatened Paris directly on Wednesday.

"The KCK ... calls on the French state to desert its hostile attitude against Kurds. Otherwise, the Kurdistan freedom movement and Kurdish people will exercise their rights to retaliate, and will be obliged to make decisions against the interests of the French state." it said.

Turkish intelligence officials have had contacts with senior PKK figures in Europe in recent years to try to end a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives but talks broke down.

According to Turkish media, Uzun was part of those talks. He was due to attend a conference on Saturday looking at the future of Kurds in Syria to be held at the French parliament with prominent Iraqi, Turkish and Syrian Kurds.

Turkish analysts suspect Assad of allowing a Syrian Kurdish movement believed to be linked to the PKK, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to take control in parts of northern Syria to stop locals from joining the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Assad has denied allowing the PKK to operate on Syrian soil and the PYD denies any association with the PKK.

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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.