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Terrorists urge France to negotiate

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09:05 CET+01:00

The Basque separatist group ETA urged France to open direct talks on a definitive end to its conflict with the French and Spanish states, in a statement released to AFP on Friday.

ETA announced an end to its armed struggle for an independent homeland on October 20 last year, but its calls for talks with Madrid and Paris have gone unanswered and security forces continue to round up its militants.

"Basque citizens hope that the French government responds positively to the opportunity to bring a definitive end to the consequences of the conflict, by beginning direct talks with ETA to that end," the statement said.

ETA's battle for the independence of the Basque Country, a territory that straddles the Pyrenees and includes a chunk of northern Spain and a corner of France, has lasted four decades and left at least 829 people dead.

In recent years ETA suffered a series of high-profile arrests on both sides of the border, losing some its most feared leaders, while political momentum in Basque areas has shifted to non-violent political movements.

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