MADRID, Spain – Spanish lawmakers Tuesday endorsed a government proposal to hold talks with the armed Basque separatist group ETA (search) if it renounces violence.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (search) has insisted that his proposal for negotiations would rule out concessions toward ETA's goal of Basque independence and focus only on terms for its dissolution and the status of more than 500 ETA prisoners. His request for parliamentary support for those negotiations was an unprecedented gesture.
The proposal was approved 192-147, with members of the opposition Popular Party casting the no votes. There were no abstentions.
The Popular Party, led by Mariano Rajoy (search), calls Zapatero's proposal a premature gesture to a terrorist group that detonated four small bombs over the weekend.
ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths since the late 1960s in its campaign of bombings and shootings since the late 1960s aimed at carving out an independent Basque homeland (search) in lands straddling northern Spain and southwest France.