Eta ready to return to negotiating table

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Eta has said it is ready to honour its March 2006 ceasefire accord if the Spanish government stops its "attacks" in the Basque region.

Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called off peace talks with the separatist group after last December's bomb attack at Madrid's Barajas airport, in which two people died.

But in an anonymous interview with Basque-language newspaper Gara, Eta says it is willing to make "firm commitments to a peaceful scenario".

In the interview the representative urged the Spanish authorities to allow a separatist party to stand in next month's local elections.

"The Spanish government needs to decide if it will close the door on the conflict resolution process or if it will consider a political solution," the statement, Eta's first in four months, said.

More than 800 people have died as a result of Eta terrorist action during its 40-year campaign for an independent Basque region.

The Gara interview concluded: "We see an independent state closer than several years ago though we'll still have to work and fight a lot."

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