Zapatero hails talks with Rajoy on ETA ceasefire
28 March 2006, MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his talks Tuesday with conservative leader Mariano Rajoy on a ceasefire by the Basque terrorist group ETA were “a good first step” towards regaining confidence between his government and the main opposition party.
28 March 2006
MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his talks Tuesday with conservative leader Mariano Rajoy on a ceasefire by the Basque terrorist group ETA were “a good first step” towards regaining confidence between his government and the main opposition party.
Zapatero told reporters following the more than two hours of talks that he expected this new climate of confidence to “last a long time” and that further steps would be “direct and exclusively between the opposition leader and myself”.
The premier and Rajoy, the leader of the Popular Party (PP), met to discuss a consensus on the permanent ceasefire announced last week by the armed separatist organisation which has killed more than 800 people since 1968.
In his comments to journalists after the meeting at Zapatero’s Moncloa Palace residence, Rajoy said he had offered the Socialist prime minister his support and that of his party in order to “finish with ETA”.
“This support by the PP has no ideological nor partisan strings attached,” Rajoy stressed, adding that he had demanded that Zapatero avoid any concessions to the terror group and moves which could “compromise the State” in any future negotiations with the ETA leadership.
He also said the premier had assured him that there had been no agreements with ETA before the ceasefire.
“The sole priority at this point is that the Government confirm that (the ceasefire announcement) is an irreversible decision by ETA to put an end to its criminal activity,” the opposition leader said.
ETA’s announcement sparked hope among Spaniards that the group’s long and bloody terrorist campaign to establish an independent Basque state in north-eastern Spain and south-western France would finally come to an end.
In comments in the days before Tuesday’s talks, both leaders agreed on the importance of joining political forces to take advantage of the current peace opportunity and this marked a reversal from the confrontational stance both parties had taken on anti-terrorism issues since Zapatero ousted the PP in elections two years ago.
Copyright Expatica and EFE
Subject: Spanish news