Europe

Basque separatists Eta 'ready to disband'

Izaskun Lesaka, centre, surrounded by French Police officers, screams as she leaves the hotel where she was arrested with another suspected member of Eta
Image caption Eta have suffered a spate of arrests, including that of Izaskun Lesaka, suspected of heading the group's military operations

The Basque separatist group Eta has said it is ready to disband, give up its weapons and enter talks with the French and Spanish governments.

According to a summary of a statement published on a Basque newspaper website, the group wants to negotiate a "definitive end" to its operations.

Eta has fought a 45-year campaign for Basque independence, but has lost support in recent years.

Last year it announced an end to its campaign of violence.

The new statement suggests the organisation wants to go a step further by disbanding completely and turning in its weapons.

The full statement is due to be published on Sunday.

The summary published on the website of the Basque newspaper Gara suggests Eta is ready for talks, but will attach conditions to disbanding.

They include the transfer of Basque prisoners to prisons closer to their homes - a long-standing Eta demand.

The Basque country straddles the border between Spain and France.

Eta is believed to be responsible for more than 800 deaths, and is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the US.

It has been weakened in recent years by a loss of support among Basque people, and a number of arrests, including that of the group's alleged military leader in October.

Eta's decision came on the eve of elections in the Spanish region of Catalonia, in which Catalan nationalists calling for a referendum on independence are expected to do well.

More on this story