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Turkey warily welcomes U.S. reward offer for Kurds

Reuters ANKARA (Reuters) — Turkey gave a guarded welcome on Wednesday to a U.S. decision to offer millions of dollars to help capture three top Kurdish PKK militants but said Washington must also break its alliance with Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

Washington pledged up to $5 million for information which could lead to the arrest of PKK military commander Murat Karayilan, and lesser rewards for two other leaders of the group which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for 34 years.

The surprise move followed a series of steps in the last month which have eased a diplomatic crisis between the two NATO allies. However they remain deeply divided, including over U.S. support for Kurdish YPG fighters in north Syria.

Turkey says the YPG is indistinguishable from the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union, and demands the United States stop support for the militia — a U.S. ally against Islamic State in Syria.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the U.S. rewards offer was a positive but “very, very late” step, and called on Washington to adopt the same policy on the YPG as it did on the PKK.

“It is not possible for us to accept putting a bounty on PKK leaders on the one hand, and sending trucks of tools, weapons and ammunition to the YPG on the other,” he told state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Turkey’s foreign ministry also said it expected the United States to support the announcement with concrete action in Syria and Iraq “against the PKK and its extensions.”

Turkey has regularly launched cross-border strikes into northern Iraq, targeting what it says are PKK bases near the group’s Qandil mountains stronghold.Speech

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