Zapatero in first talks with Basque leader after truce

20th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

20 June 2007, MADRID - Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met with Basque regional government President Juan Jose Ibarretxe on Tuesday for talks on cooperation, their first since the armed Basque group ETA announced an end to its cease-fire earlier this month.

20 June 2007

MADRID - Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met with Basque regional government President Juan Jose Ibarretxe on Tuesday for talks on cooperation, their first since the armed Basque group ETA announced an end to its cease-fire earlier this month.

The meeting comes as part of a round of talks Zapatero is having with the country's political leaders to seek support for government efforts to defeat ETA after attempts to negotiate a permanent end to the group's activities collapsed.

ETA, whose name is a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland Freedom, called off its cease-fire on June 5, blaming Zapatero's government and Ibarretxe's Basque Nationalist Party for ruining the peace process. It warned it was now "active on all fronts," a threat interpreted as meaning it would resume its attacks.

ETA has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its campaign for a separate Basque state. It is classified as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

The group killed two people in a car bomb in Madrid on Dec. 30, but later insisted the cease-fire was still on. Its previous fatal attack was in May 2003 when it killed two officers in another car bombing.

Zapatero and Ibarretxe were also to review the amount of money the Basque region pays to state.

It was the seventh time the two have met since Zapatero came to office in April 2004.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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