Government blocking attempts to reopen talks with ETA

Six months after terrorist group's renunciation of violence no contact has been made

Six months after ETA declared a definitive end to its violent struggle for an independent Basque Country, the government has yet to make any kind of contact with the terrorist group or accept any international attempts to mediate in the situation. At the same time the Popular Party has also avoided approaches by the Basque radical abertzale left to initiate relations in the region.

Three days before ETA's October 20 announcement, an international conference held in San Sebastián and attended by such figures as Kofi Annan and Bertie Ahern issued a declaration that not only urged the group to renounce violence, but also asked the government to begin talks on disarmament and ETA prisoners, leaving aside political issues. However, the resolution's unilateral nature means the government has no obligation to comply with it.

"If there is no process, there is a void that violence can fill very quickly and there is always the risk that [ETA's] discipline will be broken," warned Jonathan Powell, ex-chief of staff to Tony Blair and a member of the committee set up to monitor the resolution.

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