Madrid begins talks with separatists | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 03, 2018

INDEPENDENCE BID IN CATALONIA

Madrid begins talks with separatists

Spain's new Socialist government held talks with Catalonia's separatist executive on Wednesday in the first such meeting in seven years as tensions eased but sharp divergences remained over the region's self-determination drive.

Representatives of both executives met for almost four hours at the headquarters of the regional government in Barcelona as part of a bilateral commission that has not met since 2011.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalan president Quim Torra agreed to re-activate the commission when they met on July 10 in Madrid.

"There were some important disagreements, but to be able to say normally that we have big disagreements is also important," Spain's minister of regional administration, Meritxell Batet, who headed the central government's delegation, told reporters after the meeting.

Sanchez, who came to power at the start of June after a no-confidence motion toppled his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy, promised to improve relations between Madrid and Catalan leaders, who unsuccessfully proclaimed a republic on October 27 following a banned independence referendum.

The only agreement to emerge from the meeting was the establishment of a calender for further talks between September and December.

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