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Spanish PM Sanchez to meet head of Catalan govt Torra, independence referendum ‘off the table’

Spanish PM Sanchez to meet head of Catalan govt Torra, independence referendum ‘off the table’

Spain’s prime minister has said he will meet the head of Catalonia’s regional government in early February, but discussion of an independence referendum will be off the table.

The meeting will come ahead of negotiations between Quim Torra’s regional government and PM Pedro Sanchez, aimed at finding a way out of the political crisis that has rocked Spain since 2017 after a disputed referendum in the northeastern region.

Catalonia’s oldest and largest pro-independence party, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), demanded the talks about the region’s place within Spain in exchange for its abstention in a confidence vote earlier this month that saw Sanchez sworn in for another term, AFP said.

“What we want is that they end with a vote on the part of the Catalan population on an agreement,” the socialist leader said of the negotiations on Monday. It was not clear if this deal could be on a new form of autonomy. However, Sanchez excluded any referendum on Catalan independence, saying that any vote would be a “vote on agreement, not on division.”