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Sinn Féin meet Basque Political leaders

12 February, 2007


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this morning met the leader of the Basque party Batasuna who is in Ireland for two days.

Batasuna is a banned party and its leader Arnaldo Otegi, who is currently out on bail, had to get permission from the Spanish Courts to visit Ireland. Batasuna will also be speaking at public meetings tonight in Belfast and tomorrow in Dublin.

Speaking after the meeting, which was held in Sinn Fein's office on the

Falls Road, Gerry Adams said:

"Sinn Fein is delighted to welcome Arnaldo Otegi and Pernando Barrena from Batasuna to Ireland. The purpose of the trip is to discuss developments in the Irish and Basque conflict resolution processes.

"In addition to meeting with myself and other party colleagues we have also facilitated meetings between Batasuna and others, including representatives of the unionist and protestant communities and former Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. The purpose of these meetings was to allow Batasuna to get as broad a range of experiences of the Irish situation as possible."

"Sinn Féin believes that the causes of the conflict in the Basque Country can best be resolved through a process of dialogue involving all the protagonists. While we are always reluctant to be prescriptive about the lessons from our own experience, it is our view that dialogue provides the best route to peace and democracy.

"We strongly believe that Batasuna are committed to conflict resolution. We appeal to everyone with responsibility to redouble their efforts to build the peace process. The best way to resolve conflict, any conflict, is through a process of dialogue and all party talks.

"Consequently there is an onus on all of the protagonists to do everything in their power to put the process back on track.

"Dialogue is central to this. Politicians need to demonstrate the political will to talk. And strategies based on exclusion, criminalization, banning and repression are always counterproductive." ENDS

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