Basque separatist group ETA prepared for 'definitive end'

Sunday 25 November 2012 22.31
ETA has fought a 45-year campaign for Basque independence
ETA has fought a 45-year campaign for Basque independence

Basque separatist group ETA has reportedly indicated a readiness to disband, give up its weapons and enter talks with the governments of France and Spain.

According to a summary statement, published on the website of the Basque newspaper Gara, the group said it wanted to negotiate a "definitive end" to its operations.

ETA has fought a 45-year campaign for Basque independence.

Just over a year ago, ETA announced an end to a four-decade armed struggle for independence in which more than 800 people were killed, but did not fully end operations, nor turn over its weapons. ETA has broken ceasefires in the past.

Spain's Interior Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

The government has repeatedly said it would not negotiate with ETA, and has called on the group to disarm and disband.

ETA said in the statement that it would listen to proposals from both the Spanish and French governments over an end to the conflict.

The group has lost support in the Basque country and has been crippled by numerous arrests and discoveries of arms caches in recent years, mostly in Spain and France.

Earlier this month, British police arrested a suspected ETA member in Liverpool linked to several murders, while its military head was arrested in France in October.

The statement came four days after discussions were held between Basque political parties, labour unions, the Catholic Church, and French Socialists in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian.

After that meeting, the groups said an end to ETA was close.