Mayors who shun terrorism are welcome: Turkish leader

Turkish mayors who shun terrorist groups and breaking the law "are welcome" at the presidential complex, said Turkey’s president on Wednesday.

"I am pleased to be with mayors who keep a distance from terrorism, terror groups, and lawlessness," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of big city mayors in the wake of March local elections and last month’s suspension of the mayors of three cities on terrorism charges.

The suspended mayors of the cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van are all from the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a party accused of having links to the PKK terror group.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

At the gathering, Erdogan said the picture of unity emerging from the event is crucial at a time when unity, fraternity, and solidarity are sorely needed.

"Of course, we may have different political views and positions, but I believe that we can demonstrate the virtue of acting in solidarity when it comes to the national interests of our country and our nation," said Erdogan.

Mayors from both the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) were invited to and attended the event.