MADRID (Reuters) - Basque separatists ETA on Tuesday said the Spanish government's rejection of talks with the group until it dissolves itself would delay the process initiated to end a four-decade armed struggle for independence.
In a statement published by Basque newspaper Naiz, ETA said the government stance was a step backwards "which would delay and make more difficult the resolution of the conflict."
Spain's government in November rejected an offer of talks and demanded the group dissolve without conditions after ETA called for negotiations on prisoners and a weapons handover.
ETA announced in October 2011 the definitive end of its armed fight but did not fully halt operations or turn over its weapons. The group has broken ceasefires in the past.
ETA has been significantly weakened in recently years, with many of its leaders arrested and arms caches seized.
Hundreds of ETA prisoners are in jail across Spain. The group wants talks on having them moved to the Basque region in return for dismantling its military structure and turning in weapons.
More than 800 people have been killed since ETA started its armed operations in the 1960s.
(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Sophie Hares)