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Gul Reaffirms Turkish as Nation's Official Language

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, center, is welcomed by children in local traditional dress, at the airport in Diyarbakir, Turkey, 30 Dec 2010

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul has ruled out the use of the Kurdish language in official business, saying Turkish is the country's only official language.

At the same time, President Gul added that he is proud of the different elements in Turkey and that the other languages used in the country also are "Turkey's languages."

Mr. Gul made his comments Thursday after meeting with officials, including Mayor Osman Baydemir, in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

The president's visit comes a day after Turkish officials rejected Kurdish demands for autonomy.

Wednesday, the county's National Security Council rejected a request from Kurdish lawmakers for autonomy and recognition of their language. The council discussed the request in its last meeting of the year, which was chaired by Mr. Gul.

Meanwhile, the state-run Anatolia news agency reports that a court has sentenced the former editor-in-chief of a Kurdish-language newspaper in Turkey to 138 years for promoting a terrorist organization.

The report said Emine Demir, who oversaw the daily Azadiya Welat (meaning Independence of Homeland), was not present at Thursday's hearing, where she was being tried without arrest.

A Diyarbakir court convicted her of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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