Spanish PM to Meet Basque Leader after Year-Long Stand-Off
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Basque leader Juan Jose Ibarretxe will meet in Madrid Monday for the first time in more than a year.
Ibarretxe's Basque nationalist PNV party romped to victory in the May 13 Basque elections dealing a blow to Aznar who had been expected to do well in the ballot.
This fresh dialogue comes at a time of renewed violence in the campaign by the ETA Basque separatist movement which wants to establish an autonomous Basque homeland.
Aznar has in the past reproached the Basque leader for not taking a tough line against ETA's political wing Euskal Herritarrok (EH), which had been a parliamentary ally of the Basque government until the beginning of 2000.
The May elections confirmed the PNV's hold on power and saw EH lose 80,000 votes and half their 14 parliamentary seats.
Ibarretxe will assure Aznar that his priority is to combat terrorism and separatist violence, according to Basque government sources.
He is also expected to strengthen the region's autonomy and defend a project that would lead to self-determination -- MADRID (AFP)
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