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Historic statement

Armed group ETA announces "definitive cessation of its armed activity"


In a statement published on the website of the newspaper Gara, the armed Basque group announces "the definitive cessation of its armed activity".

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The Basque armed group ETA issued a statement Thursday saying it is ending its 43-year armed campaign for independence and called on Spain and France to open talks.

The group made the announcement to Basque daily Gara, which it regularly uses as a mouthpiece. ETA declared a permanent cease-fire in January, but up to now had not renounced armed struggle as a tool for achieving an independent Basque state, a key demand by the Spanish government.

"ETA has decided the definitive cease of its armed activity," the group said in the statement. "ETA calls upon the Spanish and French governments to open a process of a direct dialogue with the aim of addressing the resolution of the consequences of the conflict."

The statement made no mention of what it intended to do with its weapons or if it was dissolving as a group.

The announcement came just three days after several international figures, including former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Ireland's Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, attended a conference on ETA in the Basque city of San Sebastian and called on the group to end the violence.

For the armed Basque group, the international peace conference held on Monday in Donostia-San Sebastian is "an initiative of great political transcendence". "The agreed resolution brings together the ingredients for an integrated solution to the conflict and has the support of large sectors of Basque society and of the international community", the statement goes on to say.

"In Euskal Herria, a new political age is opening. We face a historic opportunity to obtain a just and democratic solution to the age-old political conflict", the statement adds.


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