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15 September 2005 Edition

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International News in Brief

Negotiations between Spanish officials and ETA

There has been speculation in the Spanish media that negotiations between the Spanish Government and the Basque pro-independence organisation ETA have progressed during the summer and that ETA may call a ceasefire in the next three months. Meanwhile, in an attempt to further ostracise the Basque nationalist left, the Spanish Special Court (Audiencia Nacional) has targeted the last legal organisation of the Basque left, their union, LAB.

Vaccines fund for less developed countries

A new scheme to provide an extra $4 billion of life-saving vaccines to millions of children in developing countries got the go-ahead as Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden launched the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) before a meeting of European Union Finance Ministers in Manchester.

"The International Finance Facility for Immunisation will enable ten million lives to be saved and spare millions of families the agony of a loved one needlessly dying," Gordon Brown said at the launch. Britain has pledged 35% of the total resources required to raise the $4 billion, which is equivalent to $130 million a year. France has pledged 25% or $100 million a year and Italy, Spain and Sweden will announce their contributions later.

Saharawi political prisoners at risk

The World Organisation Against Torture has expressed concern for the "security and physical and psychological condition" of 37 Saharawi political prisoners who have been on hunger strike since 9 August 2005 in Morocco's prisons. The organisation is calling for the mediation of the international community to save their lives.

The organisation is calling for the release of prisoners interned without charges; other Saharawi activists have been imprisoned after a clearly unfair trial and the OMCT is asking for their cases to be heard by independent trials conducted by civil courts.

The OMCT is also calling for " an exhaustive and impartial investigation of incidents of mistreatment and tortures denounced by the prisoners, so to identify those responsible and that they can be take to court and justice be done".

West Sahara — illegally occupied by Morocco — has been waiting on a self-determination referendum since the 1970s, after decades of colonisation by Spain.

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