The Basque separatist group ETA took a further step towards ending its armed struggle against the Spanish state on Thursday, saying it was willing to discuss giving up its weapons.

The announcement, made in an interview with Basque newspaper Gara, followed ETA's declaration last month of a cease-fire.

Hundreds of arrests and waning support have weakened the guerrilla group, whose fighters have killed more than 800 people in a four-decade campaign to claim an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southeast France.

Laying down of arms is on the agenda and ETA is willing to accept compromises, the newspaper quoted two ETA spokesmen as saying in the interview, which will be published in full on Friday.

ETA called on the Spanish and French governments in October to start talks towards ending Europe's last major guerrilla conflict.

Neither government has responded formally to the request for talks. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero dismissed the gesture as meaningless unless the group turned in its arms. ETA has broken ceasefires in the past.

Polls show that an end to Basque separatist violence is unlikely to sway voters in Spain's November 20 election, with unemployment and spending cuts of greater concern.

The likely new PP government will have to negotiate the details of a peace settlement, including the fate of its arms caches if a decommissioning of weapons is brokered.

(Reporting By Sonya Dowsett and Inmaculada Sanz; Editing by Angus MacSwan)