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Zapatero says no further dialogue with ETA

Latest update : 2008-12-27

Spanish Premier Jose Luis Zapatero said Basque separatist group ETA had run out of chances to end their conflict with the government through dialogue. "ETA has wasted three opportunities. There will not be any others", he said.

AFP- Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Friday his government would not give the Basque armed separatist group ETA any more chances to end their conflict through dialogue.

"Democracy has given ETA three opportunities to finish its dreadful campaign of senseless crimes," Zapatero said, referring to the attempts at negotiations made by him and his two predecessors.

"ETA has wasted the three opportunities. There will not be any others," the Socialist leader said at a news conference following the last cabinet meeting of 2008.

The government began talks with ETA after the group declared a "permanent ceasefire" in March 2006. But the government called them off after ETA detonated a car bomb at Madrid airport nine months later, killing two people.

ETA officially announced the end of the ceasefire in June 2007 and has assassinated six people since then.

Zapatero highlighted the recent blows dealt to ETA, including the arrests of the group's suspected military chief Garikoitz Aspiazu, also known as Txeroki, in November and his alleged successor three weeks later.

"In the last few months, democracy has gained ground in its fight against terrorism and terrorism has retreated in its fight against democracy," the prime minister said.

"One after the other, the terrorists will sooner or later follow the same fate as the leaders who have been arrested and jailed in recent months."

But Zapatero warned that "ETA can still kill and cause pain to Spanish society."

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 825 people in its 40-year campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque country in parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Date created : 2008-12-26