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Spain’s prime minister meets Catalan leader in bid to improve relations

Pedro Sanchez held the meeting in Barcelona where regional leader Quim Torra said he would insist on a legal secession referendum.

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Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, left, talks with Catalan regional President Quim Torra at the Palace of the Generalitat (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, left, talks with Catalan regional President Quim Torra at the Palace of the Generalitat (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, left, talks with Catalan regional President Quim Torra at the Palace of the Generalitat (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has met with the separatist leader of Catalonia in a bid to improve the strained relations between the central government and Spain’s restive northeast.

No major breakthrough is expected from Thursday’s meeting with both sides starting from distant positions on the divisive issue of Catalonia’s independence from the rest of Spain.

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Pedro Sanchez, left, shakes hands with Quim Torra (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Catalan regional president Quim Torra had said before the meeting at the Catalan government seat in central Barcelona that he would insist on Mr Sanchez allowing a legal referendum on secession for the wealthy region.

Mr Sanchez’s government has said that a referendum was out of the question since it would violate the Spanish Constitution.

Mr Sanchez will try to steer the talk to social issues, financing for Spain’s regions and the impact of recent storms in eastern Spain.

PA