ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that new talks with Kurdish militants might be possible as his government contends with an upsurge in separatist violence in the country’s southeast. The conflict has cost Turkey dearly since the militants took up arms in 1984, both in human and economic terms, and as the death toll climbs there is growing public pressure on Erdogan to bring an end to the bloodshed. Turkish intelligence officials have had contact with senior figures from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the past few years to try to end a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives, but discussions have broken down. “Regarding Imrali, there could be more talks,” Erdogan said in a televised interview with broadcaster Kanal 7 late on Wednesday, referring to the small island where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is serving a life sentence. “There is a military dimension to this, a security dimension which is separate and will continue. But beside this there is a diplomatic, socioeconomic and psychological dimension.” Erdogan spoke after Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party called for the resumption of talks between the state and the PKK to prevent a further escalation of violence. Clashes in the past several months between Turkey’s armed forces and militants from the PKK have been among the heaviest since the conflict began. Turkish soldiers backed by helicopters killed 13 PKK fighters yesterday during clashes in Cukurca near the mountainous Iraqi border, security sources said. Two soldiers were killed and three wounded in the fighting.