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Spanish govt met ETA in Oslo to talk peace - report

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OSLO, Mar 24: The Spanish government met Basque separatist group ETA for secret negotiations in Oslo last year to organise a ceasefire after 38 years of violence, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said today ( Mar 24, 2006).

''NRK knows the parties came to Oslo for nearly a week in autumn last year and laid the groundwork towards ETA's declaration of peace which came this week,'' NRK said.

ETA, which has waged a violent campaign for a separate Basque state for nearly four decades, resulting in the deaths of more than 850 people, on Wednesday unexpectedly declared a permanent ceasefire.

Norway's foreign ministry declined comment on the report.

''I can neither confirm nor deny the report. We don't want to comment further,'' chief press officer at the foreign ministry Anne Lene Sandsten said.

Norway has built a reputation as a peace mediator. In 1993 Palestinians and Israelis signed a now-derailed peace pact after secret meetings in Norway and Oslo is currently chairing peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers.

Switzerland was also involved in building trust between ETA and the Spanish government, NRK said.

REUTERS

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