Zapatero rejects talks with ETA if he wins election

4th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 October 2007, MADRID - AFP - Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Thursday ruled out any new negotiations with the Basque separatist group ETA if he wins March elections.

4 October 2007

MADRID - AFP - Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Thursday ruled out any new negotiations with the Basque separatist group ETA if he wins March elections.

"There is no prospect" of that, he said when asked in an interview on the Telecinco channel if he would consider renewing dialogue with ETA after the polls.

"ETA has only one option which is to lay down its arms, to abandon violence."

ETA has killed more than 800 people in four decades of armed struggle for independence of Basque territories which they say include parts of northern Spain and southwest France.

The government was engaged in protracted attempts to negotiate a settlement with ETA before the group staged a bomb blast that killed two people at Madrid airport last December. Although ETA said the blast had not been intended to kill, Zapatero broke off talks.

In June, ETA officially called off a 15-month-old ceasefire. Since then, the government has vowed to take a hardline against the separatists.

ETA "knows that it will never achieve any of its political objectives," Zapatero told Telecinco. But he warned that the movement "could make us suffer."

He also reiterated his opposition to plans by the head of the region Basque government, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, to hold referendums on the northeastern region's future. The proposed polls were part of "road map" for a new political framework with the rest of Spain.

"I am going to tell Ibarretxe that we cannot carry out this (referendum)," said Zapatero, who is to meet with the moderate nationalist on October 16 to discuss the issue.

The question of regional autonomy and the "Basque problem" are becoming major campaign themes for the March 2008 legislative elections.

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Subject: Spanish news

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