TOWARD THE END OF ETA

Basque Nationalist Party leader will push Rajoy to speed up plan to end ETA

Iñigo Urkullu will ask Rajoy if the government has a strategy and final deadline for disbanding PNV favors transferring ETA prisoners to a jail in the Basque Country and freeing those who are ill

Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) leader Iñigo Urkullu is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday to ask him to speed up a plan that will bring about the end of ETA.

Urkullu, who Rajoy has recognized as his preferred mediator when it comes to issues in the Basque Country, will ask Rajoy if the government has a strategy and final deadline that will lead to the disbanding of the Basque terrorist organization.

ETA announced a "cease in hostilities" last October and said it is willing to allow international mediators to help negotiate a peace settlement with both the Spanish and French governments. But one of the issues to be negotiated concerns the future of the estimated 550 ETA inmates held in prisons across Spain. Interior Minister Jorge Fernández has said he favors a plan in which the inmates will be allowed to reintegrate into society if they commit themselves to a program by renouncing ETA and terrorism in exchange for a transfer to a jail in the Basque Country.

The PNV, which supports this plan, also favors releasing ETA prisoners who are very ill.

Urkullu, who polls predict will win the next Basque elections, says the "small steps" the government is taking have been favorable for an eventual end to ETA. Among them was the PP government's rejection of a proposal introduced in Congress calling for the banning of Amaiur, the coalition of Basque radical abertzale groups. The UPyD, with the support of terrorism victims groups, had presented the proposal.

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