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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 21:19 GMT


El Correo report on ETA

Excerpts from Spanish report by Bilbao daily newspaper El Correo Espanol.

Sources consulted by El Correo agree that the armed organisation (ETA) is preparing a fresh communiqué on the political situation in the Basque Country following the Lizarra Declaration , the cease-fire announced on 16th September and the results of the Basque elections.

According to the sources, the decision to make a fresh public statement has been brought forward as ETA did not initially plan to publish a further document until December.

Internal debate on the future of the organisation has gathered pace in the last few weeks and, according to the sources, the majority of activists are prepared to lay down their arms for good.

But another sector, less representative but with "considerable political weight", is not convinced violence should be renounced for good until guarantees are received that questions such as sovereignty and territory will not be off limits at the talks.

Unequivocal proof

ETA also aims, through the new document, to respond positively to the constant calls by the Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, for it to guarantee its willingness to renounce violence before talks can begin.

The government has taken heed of the comments made by an ETA spokesman to the BBC, in which he stressed that the cease-fire decision was "firm and implies a clear willingness to solve the conflict".

At another point in the interview, the ETA member said that "if a solution is not found, ETA would not be forced to take military action".

However Aznar's cabinet is demanding unequivocal proof that the organisation's move is serious and irreversible.

Setting up contacts

Echoing a communiqué issued in May, the spokesman demanded a solution to the conflict that would prevent "future Basque generations finding themselves forced to take up arms".

According to the sources, ETA will re-state the position it set out in its letter to the Lizarra Declaration signatories, which was read out at their meeting in Saint-Jean-Pie-de Port , announcing its willingness not to return to the armed struggle.

In the last point of the September communiqué, the organisation said that "future events may determine the definitive character of this suspension of military activity".

The Popular Party government wants to find out if ETA has now reached such a conclusion, which would pave the way for setting up direct, secret contacts - to be made public at a later date - on the prisoners situation.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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