First ETA talks with Madrid 'only keep ceasefire going'

21st December 2006, Comments 0 comments

21 December 2006, MADRID — The first meeting between ETA and the Spanish government made little progress, it was reported on Thursday.

21 December 2006

MADRID — The first meeting between ETA and the Spanish government made little progress, it was reported on Thursday.

The Spanish daily El Pais said the meeting, widely reported to have taken place secretly outside Spain, served only to keep the ceasefire going.

But Madrid complained about on-going street violence in the Basque country.

Representatives of the Basque separatist organisation berated the government over "judicial bullying".

They were referring to the arrests and jail sentences for ETA terrorists.

Two Spanish newspapers, El Correo and El Diario Vasco, reported on Wednesday the first meeting between both sides.

Both reports said ETA at no point in mentioned the possibility of renouncing the ceasefire.

The ceasefire was described as "permanent" when ETA announced it nine months ago.

The organization, which figures on the U.S. and EU list of terrorist groups, said in a recent "internal bulletin" that preliminary negotiations with the Socialist government of  Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero could "break down" if no progress was made in the final weeks of the year.

The two newspapers said that following the watershed talks, Zapatero aims to meet on Friday with Mariano Rajoy, head of Spain's conservative political opposition, the Popular Party (PP).

The PP rejects the idea of negotiations with ETA, saying the group has not apologized for killing and wounding civilians and has not made a genuine commitment to eschew violence definitively.

The incipient peace process has been perturbed in recent weeks by the robbery by ETA militants in France of a sizeable shipment of pistols and by escalated and sometimes violent street demonstrations in the Basque Region by ETA sympathizers.

Despite the radicals' increased taking to the streets, the vast majority of Basques have denounced ETA and rejected the idea of using violence for political ends.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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