Madrid: Spain’s armed Basque separatist group ETA said Saturday it was ready to discuss disbanding and to negotiate with France and Spain if certain conditions are met, in a statement published on a Basque news site.
The group, which last year said it had abandoned violence after a four-decade campaign for an independent homeland that claimed more than 800 lives, said one outstanding issue was the transfer of Basque prisoners to jails closer to home.
ETA wanted to discuss “formulas and timetables” to bring home prisoners and Basque political exiles; disarmament and the break-up of its armed structures; and the demobilisation of ETA members.
The statement ran on Naiz.info, the website of the Basque newspaper Gara.
Until Saturday’s statement, the group had refused to announce its dissolution and disarmament, as demanded by Spain and France.
But weakened by a series of arrests in France and Spain in recent years, ETA said Saturday it was ready to “listen to and analyse” proposals from Madrid and Paris.
The two governments would have a “precise knowledge” of its positions, it added.
Gara said it would publish the full statement in its Sunday edition.
ETA has been placed on a list of terrorist organisations by the United States and the European Union and has been blamed for the deaths of 829 people. Its last attack on Spanish soil was in August 2009.
It has persistently called for around 700 Basque prisoners incarcerated in jails across Spain to be transferred back to prisons in the Basque region so they can be closer to their families.