MADRID (AP) – Spain said Monday that it has asked the United States to use its talks on taking Cuba off the blacklist of nations sponsoring terrorism to help obtain the extradition of two members of the armed Basque group ETA from the communist country.
Foreign Minister José Manuel García Margallo said the government has been in talks with the U.S. in the hopes of getting Cuba to extradite José Angel Urtiaga and José Ignacio Etxarte to Spain.
They have been wanted since 2010 in a probe into alleged links between Venezuela, ETA and the Colombian rebel group, FARC.
Cuba's 33-year status on the terrorism list stems from its support decades ago for ETA and the FARC.
The list is a major hurdle in U.S.-Cuban negotiations to end a half-century diplomatic freeze.
Margallo said the extraditions have since been made more difficult by former Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who last week called on the U.S. to take Cuba off the list immediately and without conditions.
Rodríguez Zapatero's comments in Havana after meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro during a private visit greatly angered the conservative Madrid government.
Margallo said Rodríguez Zapatero had not informed the government of the meeting with Castro and should have contacted the ministry before making such statements.
Urtiaga and Etxarte are believed to have been in Cuba since the mid-1980s. Spain's National Court said the two sought permission from ETA to carry out grenade- and mortar-launching tests in Venezuela in cooperation with the FARC.
ETA killed some 830 people in a four-decade-long campaign for a Basque homeland. It declared a permanent cease-fire in 2011 but has yet to disband.