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Cablegate: Spain: Government Denies Rumored Eta Talks

VZCZCXRO1474
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #1241 1720741
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 210741Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2849
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 2847

UNCLAS MADRID 001241

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: GOVERNMENT DENIES RUMORED ETA TALKS


1. (U) On June 19 conservative Spanish media outlets ABC and
El Mundo claimed that Deputy Foreign Minister Bernardino Leon
participated in negotiations with the Basque terrorist group
ETA after the group ended its "permanent" cease-fire on June
6. The news reports sparked strong condemnations from the
opposition Popular Party and others who questioned whether
the government had broken its promise to end all negotiations
with ETA.

2. (U) Leon rejected the allegations on June 20. Spanish
daily El Pais (close to the Zapatero government) reported
that "Leon has sharply denied that he participated in
meetings with leaders of ETA on behalf of the government and
he has said that the information published by El Mundo and
ABC was false." According to government sources, neither Leon
nor any member of the administration participated in the
alleged meetings.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: We do not have independent confirmation of
either of these reports. We were not aware of any Foreign
Ministry involvement in dealing with ETA, which is seen here
as a domestic issue, and most contact with governments such
as France on the subject have been through police channels.
Spanish President Zapatero now needs to appear as tough as
possible in dealing with ETA after the cease-fire rupture and
in the face of intense scrutiny and criticism by the
opposition. He is also on the record with strong comments
forswearing future negotiations with the terrorist group.
Leon is a fairly prominent figure in Spanish political
circles and has not previously, to our knowledge, been
involved in ETA policy-making. If the GOS were to re-engage
in negotiations with ETA, it likely would choose a less
visible official with previous experience on ETA.
AGUIRRE

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