Eta calls for mediation in conflict with Spain

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Car drives past road sign overwritten 'Eta'
Image caption,
Spain took a hardline response to Eta's latest ceasefire declaration

The outlawed Basque separatist group Eta has appealed for international mediation to resolve its conflict with the Spanish government.

The call, published in a Basque newspaper, comes two weeks after Madrid dismissed the group's latest unilateral ceasefire as "inadequate".

Madrid says the group must renounce violence forever.

Eta's campaign for independence from Spain has cost more than 800 lives since 1968.

A previous unilateral ceasefire in 2006 led to preliminary talks, but the government broke off contact after a bomb at Madrid airport killed two people.

"Faced with the stubbornness of France and Spain, Eta has decided again to launch the boat of opportunity for the democratic resolution of the conflict," the group said in excerpts of the communique published by the newspaper, Gara.

The paper said it would release the entire statement in its Sunday edition.

Eta said it took the decision "without throwing anchor, ready to navigate in deeper waters".

Gara said Eta called on the international community to join the process to produce a "permanent, just and democratic" resolution to the conflict.

Eta has called two ceasefires in the past but abandoned them both. It is unclear if the latest is meant as a permanent or temporary move.

Earlier this month, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Eta had broken too many ceasefires to be trusted.

He demanded "a definitive and unconditional abandonment" of Eta's violent campaign.

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