US offers up to $5 mln reward for information on PKK members

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The United States on Tuesday offered rewards for information on three senior members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an armed insurgency against the Turkish state for decades.

The move could help Washington repair strained ties with NATO ally Ankara.

Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed PKK and, like it, a terrorist organization.

On Tuesday, Washington authorized rewards of up to $5 million for information “leading to the identification or location” of Murat Karayilan, up to $4 million for Cemil Bayik and up to $3 million for Duran Kalkan.

The announcement was made by the US Embassy in Ankara following a visit by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer.

The three PKK figures also appear on Turkey’s “most wanted terrorists” list, according to the Interior Ministry, which describes them as being among the leaders of the organization.

The PKK, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has fought the Turkish state since 1984.

Relations between Turkey and the United States have begun to thaw since the release from jail last month of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.

Last week, the two countries mutually lifted sanctions on government officials, imposed in August over the Brunson case. Washington announced this week that Turkey would receive a temporary waiver from re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

President Tayyip Erdogan also said on Tuesday that talks with the United States regarding state-owned lender Halkbank, which had been facing a US fine over allegations of evasion of sanctions on Iran, were on a positive track.

US and Turkish troops last week began conducting joint patrols in Syria’s Manbij, which the two sides have agreed to clear of militants. Turkey had previously said the United States was delaying implementation of the plan.

Trump and Erdogan are to meet this weekend at a summit in Paris.

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