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Basque separatist group ETA floats agenda to disband

The Basque armed separatist group ETA has said it is ready to discuss disbanding its membership with the French and Spanish authorities. However, certain conditions would first need to be met.

A man passes in front a wall painted with the symbol of the Basque separatist armed group ETA, reading '' ETA. Together Always '', in Arbizu northern Spain Friday Oct.21, 2011, the day after ETA announced the end of its armed struggle. (ddp images/AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos). // eingestellt von se

ETA, Symbolbild

The group announced its demands for an agreement with the French and Spanish governments in a statement to a Basque news organization.

Full details of the document were revealed in the nationalist daily newspaper Gara on Sunday.

The group proposed an "agenda of dialogue" that addressed the return to the Basque region of ETA prisoners being held in custody elsewhere.

The statement also called for the "demilitarization" of the Basque region, referring to Spanish security forces, in return for the dismantling of its own "armed structures."

An agreement that included all those elements would bring with it "a definitive end of the armed conflict," the group was reported to have said.

Madrid calls for immediate end

The Spanish daily newspaper El Pais reported that the Madrid government had so far not given consideration to the proposal. Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said the only statement he wanted from the group "is the one that announces its dissolution," the paper reported on its website.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has repeatedly said it will not negotiate with the group, demanding instead that it simply disband.

The separatist group, which has killed more than 800 people since the 1960s in its struggle for Basque independence, announced a definitive end to its armed activities in October last year. However, the organization has still not handed over weapons.

The group - which has targeted businesses as well as security forces - has suffered from a loss of support in the Basque Country itself, with many members arrested, and arms caches discovered, in recent years.

rc/hc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)