BOISE, Idaho (AP) - State lawmakers agreed Monday to alter a resolution about Basque separatism because of concerns from the Bush administration that the bill failed to condemn a terrorist group.
The State Department had offered a reminder Monday that President Bush was in charge of carrying out U.S. foreign policy after the Idaho House passed the resolution, which supports self-determination for Spain's Basque minority.
The Boise area has the largest Basque population in North America with 15,000 people.
The legislation, which had not been passed by the state's Senate, did not condemn a Basque militant group that the United States and Spain consider terrorist.
But after the bill passed the House, Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, the state's most prominent politician of Basque descent, said he agreed to change it because of the administration's concerns. He worked on the bill with state Rep. David Beiter.
Cenarrusa said the Bush administration promised to facilitate a meeting to discuss the possibility of attempting to broker some kind of agreement among France, Spain and the Basque Autonomous Government.
The bill calls for peace talks among the three parties and a vote on Basque independence.
The version of the bill passed in the House called for an end to violence in the Basque region of Spain. But the revised resolution specifically condemns Basque Homeland and Freedom, or ETA, a group the State Department includes on its list of recognized terrorists.
Cenarrusa and supporters of the bill had always opposed terrorism by any organization.
The revised resolution still requires the approval of both the Senate and House.
In a statement after the House passed the earlier version of the bill, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Idaho House and other state legislatures have every right to express themselves, "but the president is entrusted with carrying out the foreign policy of the United States."
ETA has carried out violent attacks in Spain as part of a 34-year campaign to obtain an independent homeland in northern Spain and southwest France.
An Idaho Senate panel delayed action on the bill over the weekend after it received a call from a deputy to Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, said Sheila Sorensen, chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee in Boise.
The deputy, Kurt Volker, expressed the administration's concern, but did not ask the panel to hold the bill, Sorensen said.
Basques came to the American West in waves during the early part of the 20th century, working often as sheepherders and later as ranchers.
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