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Rajoy remains cautious on ETA

PP criticizes ex-UN chief for "not knowing Basque realities" as Blair and Carter side with global panel's peace recommendations

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Jimmy Carter have signed on to the list of recommendations drafted by an international panel of mediators calling on ETA to issue a definitive end to violence in the Basque Country.

"This effort deserves the support of the international community," Carter said in a statement that was released by Lokarri, the international social organization headed by South African lawyer and mediator Brian Currin to promote peaceful coexistence in the Basque Country.

A spokesman for Blair's office said that "there is a window of opportunity to end Europe's last armed conflict."

Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero spoke with opposition leader Mariano Rajoy on Monday, and discussed the possibility that ETA would be issuing a statement shortly, Popular Party (PP) sources said Wednesday.

While Zapatero didn't offer any assurances to the PP leader as to when and where the ETA statement will be made, the sources said Rajoy wants to wait and see what the Basque terrorist group says before making any official comment.

Meanwhile, the president of the PP in the Basque Country, Antonio Basagoiti, sent a letter to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to tell him that the conclusions reached by Monday's international panel in San Sebastián only "serve to block" ETA's final demise.

Basagoiti said that Annan and the rest of the panel have little or no knowledge on ETA and the realities of the Basque Country, EFE reported.