Spanish PM asks Venezuela to probe suspected ETA training

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Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Wednesday called on Venezuela to respond to his request for help in investigating suspected training of ETA members in the South American country.

"The statements, which have caused this uproar, by two suspected ETA members are enough for the government to launch an inquiry and for the Venezuelan government to give us a response," Zapatero said in an interview with the private Telecinco television station.

Spanish court documents released Monday showed that two suspected members of the armed Basque separatist movement ETA arrested in Spain last week have said they received weapons training in Venezuela.

The suspects said they had met in Venezuela with Arturo Cubillas, who is alleged to be the ETA representative in the country and who was given a senior post in the administration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met with Venezuela's ambassador, Isaias Rodriguez, to tell him Spain wants "more intense cooperation and concrete and specific actions in relation" to Cubillas, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference.

Judge Eloy Velasco, who is investigating the alleged links between ETA and Colombia's FARC rebels, has charged Cubillas is responsible for coordinating relations between the two groups.

Venezuela's government has insisted it "is not linked in any way with any terrorist organisation, especially ETA."

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

It is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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