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Spain's leaders unite is response to ETA ceasefire

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Spain's leaders unite is response to ETA ceasefire

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In an uneasy alliance, the leader of Spain’s opposition Popular party, Mariano Rajoy, has agreed to support the government should it decide to open talks with the guerrilla group ETA.

During a rare meeting with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Rajoy said he would put aside ideological and party differences. The two main parties have been stern critics of each other ever since Zapatero’s Socialists unexpectedly won power in 2004. After the meeting, Rajoy qualified his support – saying it was conditional upon things changing. His party has always maintained a hard line against ETA and demanded that the group hand in its weapons before any talks. Prime Minister Zapatero confirmed that his government was working to establish that the announced ceasefire by ETA was a genuine offer to stop its violent campaign. It was last week that the Basque Separatists video-taped a statement declaring a unilateral truce. Public opinion in Spain now appears to support the idea of the government beginning peace talks after nearly 40 years of violence.