Basque group ETA says disarmament 'on agenda': press

10th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Basque separatist group ETA is ready to discuss laying down its weapons, it said in comments published Thursday, after last month declaring an end to armed activity.

"Disarmament is on the agenda and ETA is willing to accept compromises," the Basque newspaper Gara quoted ETA as saying in an interview with two of its spokespeople, in extracts published on its website.

Gara said the interview would be published in full on Friday.

ETA announced in a video last month that it had decided to abandon a campaign of violence after more than four decades of bombing and shooting that claimed 829 lives.

That historic statement was widely welcomed but met with some reservations since the group said nothing about handing over its arms nor disbanding as Spanish authorities have demanded.

The group, which seeks to carve out a homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France, called on the Spanish and French governments to open direct dialogue over "the consequences of the conflict".

Neither France nor Spain formally responded to the call for dialogue with ETA, which is classified as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

Spain's centre-left Socialist government welcomed the declaration but said it will not soften its stance on ETA before November 20 general elections, widely expected to deliver power to the Popular Party (PP).

Gara, regularly used as a mouthpiece by the group, said the ETA spokespeople in the interview detailed their proposals to the Spanish authorities and their view on the prospect of the conservative PP coming to power.

The leader of the PP who polls show is likely to be elected prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has said he will not negotiate with ETA.

© 2011 AFP

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