Spain officially announced the start of peace negotiations with the Basque separatist group ETA after formally informing parliament Thursday, and the prime minister warned that talks to end decades of bloodshed would be long and difficult.

The talks had been widely expected since ETA declared a permanent cease-fire in March.

CountryWatch: Spain

There have so far been no details about where and when the negotiations would be held, and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero gave little away in his brief statement, saying only that his interior minister would update congressional leaders in September on progress.

"The government is going to initiate talks with ETA," Zapatero said from parliament. "The process is going to be long, tough and difficult. We'll handle it with determination and prudence, with unity and loyalty and always with respect to the memory of the victims."