ETA to announce disarmament

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The Spanish government will give nothing in exchange for disarmament of the Basque militant separatist group ETA, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday.

The announcement comes five-and-a-half years after the organization, whose 45-year-struggle for the independence of the Basque Region in the north of Spain and southwest corner of France has cost around 830 lives, announced a permanent and lasting ceasefire.

Spanish newspaper El País reported that ETA would use civil intermediaries to notify French legal authorities of the location of its weapons caches - thought to be mostly in France - so that they can then be put under the supervision of an worldwide committee.

Etcheverry said the disarmament should, if possible, be completed before France's presidential election, the first round of which is set for 23 April.

Six years ago, ETA's leaders declared they would cease their armed struggle, but did not surrender weapons.

"ETA needs to do two things - to disarm and disband", the cabinet's spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo told reporters during a weekly briefing.

Spanish media say recent seizures of arms have been quite small, which they say indicate Eta does not have many weapons left - giving its disarmament a predominantly symbolic character.

Civilian intermediaries are expected to inform French judiciary about the locations of ETA's arsenal and the International Verification Commission (IVC) will supervise the process of disarmament.

Iñigo Urkullu, the head of the Basque regional government, said the authorities had been informed of the possible disarmament, adding that he hoped it would be "definitive, unilateral, irrevocable, complete and legal".

Mari Mar Blanco, who represents the victims' group FTV and whose brother was kidnapped and murdered by ETA in 1997, said the ETA should cooperate with the judicial system in shedding light on the more than 300 unresolved killings.

FILE - In this file image made from video provided on October 20, 2011, masked members of the Basque separatist group ETA hold up their fists in unison following a news conference at an unknown location.

The economically powerful Basque region, which has a strong cultural identity and its own Basque language, is one of 17 semi-autonomous regions in Spain.

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