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Spain dismisses Basque separatists' call for peace talks

Spain has rejected the armed Basque separatist ETA's call for international mediation to solve its long-running dispute with the Spanish government. The message came two weeks after ETA announced a ceasefire.

ETA declaring its cease fire in a video statement

ETA declared a ceasefire on a video two weeks ago

Spain's government on Monday rejected a call by banned Basque separatist group ETA for international mediation to resolve decades of violent discord.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega dismissed the call Monday, saying the government had "no comment to make about something that has nothing new."

"ETA knows that the only thing that has any value is the definitive and complete end to violence and arms," she added.

In a statement published in the Basque newspaper Gara, the ETA said that it was willing to "explore" the steps required for a democratic process, "including commitments to be taken by ETA."

The separatist organization had said it was ready to consider a declaration drawn up in Brussels in March, calling on ETA to announce a permanent, unconditional and internationally verifiable ceasefire. The declaration was signed by, among others, Anglican bishop, Desmond Tutu, and former president of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk, as well as four Nobel peace laureates.

The Spanish government had already dismissed the ETA ceasefire declaration of September 5, which gave no details of precise plans. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said, "statements are worth nothing, only decisions matter."

Since the start of its violent campaign for an independent Basque country in the late 1960s, ETA has killed more than 825 people. The group previously announced a "permanent ceasefire" in 2006, but it ended with a car bomb that killed two people at Madrid's main airport later that year.

Author: Joanna Impey, David Levitz (AP/AFP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

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