Zapatero, Sarkozy pledge hardline against ETA

28th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2007, MADRID - French presidential front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy promised solidarity with Spain in the fight against terrorism.

28 February 2007

MADRID - French presidential front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy promised solidarity with Spain in the fight against terrorism.

On a visit to Madrid, Sarkozy held meetings with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The two agreed on the need to resolve the deadlock over the proposed European Union constitution and hailed the successes of cooperation between Madrid and Paris against Basque separatist militants.

Sarkozy, currently France's interior minister, lunched with Zapatero, met with Spanish counterpart Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and the leader of Spain's conservative opposition, Mariano Rajoy, and addressed a rally of French expats.

Spanish officials told Efe that the Socialist premier and Sarkozy, a conservative, focused on the troubled EU constitutional process and on bilateral collaboration against ETA, the radical Basque separatist group that is on the EU and U.S. lists of international terrorist organizations.

Earlier in this decade, French authorities began cooperating in earnest with their Spanish colleagues to dismantle ETA, which has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its quest for an independent Basque state comprising parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Sarkozy later told reporters at Madrid's Retiro park, where he visited a monument to the victims of the March 2004 bombings by Muslim militants that left 191 dead in the Spanish capital, that France's solidarity with Spain in the matter of terrorism will not waver with changes of government.

He also sidestepped a question about whether Madrid should negotiate with ETA, calling that a decision for the Spanish government.

Zapatero ended the peace process with ETA when the radicals broke the cease-fire they declared last March by bombing at Madrid airport on 30 December, killing two.

Sarkozy said Zapatero was "particularly interested" in the Frenchman's proposal to substitute a "simplified" charter for the proposed EU constitution that citizens in France and the Netherlands rejected in referendums.

He said his text would retain the non-controversial articles of the original document, and stressed that his compatriots' "no" vote in the referendum did not signify a "no to Europe."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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