Spain hopes to ease Basque tensions

March 15, 2008 at 12:58 AM

MADRID, March 15 (UPI) -- Spain's prime minister said he intends to work to ease tensions in the disputed Basque region over its quest for greater autonomy.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he would consider offering the semi-autonomous region more freedoms, though short of the independence many would prefer, El Pais reported Friday.

Tensions remain high in the Basque region after a former Socialist representative was killed in the town of Arrasate by a gunman suspected of belonging to the Basque militant group ETA.

Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon ordered that ANV and the PCTV parties cease activities for three years.

His decision followed the bombing of a court building that was blamed on ETA.

ETA, which calls for a separate homeland along the Spanish-French border, has been fighting Spanish authorities for more than three decades.

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