For years Turkish leaders vowed they would never negotiate with "terrorists" — their term for the militant PKK separatists who have been battling security forces for decades. So many Turks were startled to learn that the head of the intelligence service had been holding disarmament talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Faced with uncertainty in Kurdish northern Iraq and rising Kurdish strength in parts of Syria, Ankara seems motivated to respond to some of the demands from its own Kurdish population. And many Turks, weary of the violence that has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives, are rallying behind the effort. But the government's previous Kurdish initiative was sabotaged by violence and a nationalist backlash, and analysts hope Turkey's leaders have learned some lessons from that failure.
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