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ETA’s Political Wing Urges Calm

December 6, 1999

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ The political wing of an armed movement fighting for Basque independence has urged the group not to revert to violence even though it has ended its cease-fire, a newspaper said Monday.

The separatist movement, known as ETA, announced last week that its 14-month-old truce was ending Dec. 3 and that attacks could resume immediately in its quest for independence of the northern Spanish region.

Representatives of the political party Herri Batasuna met with ETA members in France shortly after the announcement, Diario 16 said, quoting Basque nationalist sources.

Herri Batasuna stopped short of asking ETA to reverse its course and reinstate the truce. Rather, it warned that renewed violence would damage the independence cause and jeopardize cooperation agreements it has reached with the moderate Basque party that runs the regional government, the paper said.

ETA, however, has not clearly stated its plans, it said.

The group called off the cease-fire on grounds that moderate Basque nationalists have failed to live up to a reported pledge to take the independence cause into the political mainstream.

Thousands of Spaniards took to the streets last week to appeal to ETA to refrain from reverting to its 30-year armed struggle, which has left nearly 800 people dead.

The government and ETA held a single round of peace talks in May but made no progress, with ETA pressing for Basques to be able to decide their own future and the government ruling out such a possibility.

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