'Secret talks' claims over banned Basque party

29th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 April 2005, MADRID — Banned Basque separatist party Batasuna has had secret contacts with the Basque socialist party despite official denials.

29 April 2005

MADRID — Banned Basque separatist party Batasuna has had secret contacts with the Basque socialist party despite official denials.

Quoting Spanish intelligence sources, the Spanish daily El Mundo reported the Basque Socialist party (PSE) president Jesus Eguiguren has had at least two secret meetings over the past several months with leaders of Batasuna, the political wing of the armed separatist group ETA.

The meetings, which took place in the house of a Batasuna supporter in the Spanish Basque country, were aimed at gauging the chances of success of Batasuna proposals for negotiations to end the campaign of violence conducted by ETA.

ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its four-decade campaign for an independent state for the Basque country, which covers parts of northern Spain and southwest France.

However, Batasuna spokesman Arnaldo Otegi denied the meetings took place saying his party "maintains no dialogue with the Spanish government nor with the Spanish Socialist party".

Otegi told a press conference that the French and Spanish governments
should meet ETA "to discuss the demilitarisation of the conflict", including prisoners, exiles, refugees and victims.

The PSE president and his spokesman were not immediately available for comment.

The Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has denied several times, during the past few months, making contact with Batasuna.

Batasuna has been banned by Spanish law since 2003 because of links to ETA separatists and features on an EU list of terrorist organisations.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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