Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Rajoy 'available to speak' with new Catalan leader

Rajoy 'available to speak' with new Catalan leader Rajoy 'available to speak' with new Catalan leader
Steven Clarke | 18 May, 2018, 11:18

Fervent Catalan secessionist Quim Torra was sworn in Thursday as the restive Spanish region's new leader, with his demands for an independent Catalonia set to prolong a standoff with Spain's national government.

Rajoy, who has fought relentlessly to deny Catalonia independence, said he was prepared to meet with Torra and listen to what the Catalan leader had to say.

In an indication of the simmering pressure, Spain's nationwide authorities in Madrid, which often sends a consultant to regional authorities ceremonies, declined to attend the swearing-in.

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Speaking at a press conference Sofia Tuesday, the Spanish prime minister said that he is willing to "work toward an agreement" to solve the region's government impasse and that he hopes the new Catalan leader would "make an effort" in their discussions, La Vanguardia reported. The move fueled a political crisis with Madrid that termed the referendum illegal, citing Spain's constitution which says Spain is indivisible. Prosecutors say that Spain can not appeal the decision. King Felipe VI has publicly supported the government's stance.

Torra, whose election ended a leadership vacuum of more than five months in Catalonia, said he also wants to visit the separatist leaders being held in Spanish jails over an outlawed independence referendum and illegal declaration of a separate Catalan state.

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