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Madrid urged to 'sit down and talk' with Catalan regional leaders

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Madrid urged to 'sit down and talk' with Catalan regional leaders
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Catalonia's regional government leader called on Madrid to open talks on self-determination for the Spanish region on Tuesday, after days of unrest triggered by the jail sentences for nine separatist leaders.

"No one will ever bar this country from continuing to advance in line with what its citizens want... We will always defend the right of self-determination in Catalonia," said Quim Torra.

The region saw seven consecutive nights of protests after nine Catalan separatist leaders were convicted of sedition for leading a failed 2017 bid for independence.

Things have calmed down a bit but the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) — the umbrella group of different organisations — called for another rally on Tuesday night.

On a visit to Catalonia on Monday, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez criticised Torra for failing to restore order.

The regional leader tried to meet Sanchez while he was in Catalonia but was rebuffed.

On Monday, hundreds of peaceful protesters waved placards urging Sanchez to "sit and talk" with Torra.

But the government has said talks are impossible with Torra until he condemns the violence unequivocally.

In his reply, Torra asked "for dialogue with conditions" but his response did not mention the violence. Torra had said on Saturday that he had always condemned the violence.

A spokeswoman for the pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), which is allied with Torra's group, condemned Sanchez for not talking directly to the Catalan government.

"Sanchez is refusing dialogue for the umpteenth time. (This shows) disrespect to the people of Catalonia," Marta Vilalta Torres said.

But the leader of Spain's main opposition centre-right People's Party, Pablo Casado said Sanchez's reaction was not strong enough.

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