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Spain's New Government Rejects Contact with ETA


The Basque separatist group ETA is calling for a dialogue with Spain's new government, but the Socialists who staged an upset election victory last week say they want nothing to do with Basque terrorists.

The separatists' message to the incoming government of Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero appeared Sunday in the Basque-language newspaper Gara. The communiqué says ETA is interested in dialogue, but the group's members intend to press on with their armed campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.

Socialist Party officials said they would have no reaction or comment to the statement from ETA.

Spanish authorities have always refused to negotiate with ETA, which is classified as a terrorist group by Spain, the United States and the European Union. Attacks by ETA over the past 35 years have killed more than 800 people.

Authorities in Madrid initially blamed ETA for the recent bombing of four trains in the Spanish capital, but they now believe that Muslim extremists may have staged the terrorist assault. The March 11 attacks killed over 200 people and wounded 1,800 others.

On Friday, a Spanish judge ordered three Moroccans and two Indians suspected of having a part in the bombings to remain in custody pending further investigation.

The Moroccans are accused of murder, and of belonging to a terrorist organization. The Indians are accused of collaborating with a terrorist group and falsifying documents.

The five men, who have not been formally charged, all maintain their innocence.

Five other suspects - four Arabs and a Spaniard - were arrested on Thursday.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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