Madrid: The Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent and internationally verifiable cease-fire Monday, calling it a step toward ending its decades-old fight for an independent state straddling northern Spain and southwest France.
ETA`s statement in the pro-independence newspaper Gara, which often serves as an ETA mouthpiece, made no mention of ETA dissolving or giving up its weapons as demanded by the Spanish government.
There was no immediate comment from the Spanish government.
ETA declared a cease-fire in September but gave no details about how long it would last.
The new statement specifies it is a "permanent and general cease-fire which will be verifiable by the international community."
It added: "This is ETA`s firm commitment toward a process to achieve a lasting resolution and toward an end to the armed confrontation."
ETA declared what it called a permanent cease-fire in 2006, but that truce ended up lasting just nine months as talks with the government went nowhere. ETA resorted to violence in December 2006 with a huge car bombing that killed two people at Madrid`s Barajas airport.
ETA`s last deadly attack in Spain was a July 2009 car bomb that killed two policemen on the island of Mallorca.
The group is considered a terrorist organization by Spain, the European Union and the United States, and it has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s.
In Spain, speculation has been rife for weeks that ETA would issue a new statement, but the government has urged caution, saying the group has raised hopes before only to dash them.
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the only statement he wanted to see from ETA was one simply announcing its dissolution.