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Jailed Kurdish rebel leader affirms commitment to peace with Turkey

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ANKARA, Turkey — Imprisoned Kurkish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has vowed to press ahead with efforts for a peaceful resolution of an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

In a letter read Friday to thousands celebrating a spring festival in the mainly-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, Ocalan said: "We were not afraid of (fighting); we won't be afraid of making peace."

Ocalan said the government — which is facing crucial elections this month — is "dragging its feet" but is also committed to peace.

Ocalan announced a historic cease-fire to end hostilities at last year's spring festival of Newroz, which is mainly marked by Kurds in Turkey.

His group, however, later halted the withdrawal of fighters from Turkey's territory, saying the country had not kept promises.

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