Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar yesterday rejected calls to hold talks with the Basque regional government, accusing the nationalist authority of legitimising the violent campaign of the separatist group ETA. I will not take part in any dialogue...that seeks to break the constitutional framework, Aznar told a news conference. That would mean accepting, just as the nationalists want, that there is a so-called political conflict that directly and indirectly legitimises terrorism, he said. ETA has admitted 20 killings so far this year, its bloodiest since 1992. It is also blamed for the fatal shooting on Tuesday night of a former Socialist health minister in Barcelona. ETA is blamed for about 800 deaths in its 32-year campaign for a Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France. Hundreds of thousands of people in Barcelona protested against ETA on Thursday night. Many marchers also urged Spain's political parties to settle their differences over the Basque situation. Aznar insisted on Friday, however, that the Basque government was providing ETA with political credibility by challenging Spain's constitution, which spells out the region's wide autonomy powers.
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