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Sunday, September 20, 1998 Published at 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK

World: Europe

Adams urges ETA towards peace

Sinn Fein want ETA to pursue a democratic path

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, has called on Basque separatists to follow the example of Republicans in Northern Ireland and find a democratic solution to their armed conflict.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Mr Adams said he welcomed the announcement of an indefinite ceasefire called by the Basque separatist movement, ETA, on Wednesday.

"Let's hope it will be possible (for Basques) to arrive at the same configuration of forces as what we have built here during years of strife, and that it will also allow for a democratic solution," Mr Adams said.

Recent talks

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein held talks recently with the political wing of ETA, Herri Batasuna.

[ image: Many ETA activists are in prisons]
Many ETA activists are in prisons
He said his party, kept out of mainstream UK and Irish politics for years, believed conflicts must be resolved by dialogue, but added governments had a responsibility to show leadership.

The Spanish Prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, is to meet senior officials on Monday to discuss his government's response to the ETA ceasefire.

The links between the IRA and ETA are thought to go back to the early 1970s when ETA provided the IRA with handguns.

ETA has also been named in the past as the link organisation which helped the IRA acquire the devastating plastic explosive semtex.

But Sinn Fein says the focus recently has been on political contacts between Sinn Fein and Herri Batasuna.

ETA's truce comes after 30-years of violence in the fight for an independent Basque region, costing the lives of 800.

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