08:11 GMT26 January 2021
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    MADRID (Sputnik) - International mediators must be present in planned negotiations between Spanish and Catalan leaders, the head of the Catalan regional government Quim Torra said on Friday, a day after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rejected calls to employ the help of a third party in talks.

    Catalan lawmakers are set to hold an inter-party meeting next week to discuss strategy ahead of the upcoming negotiations with the Spanish government.

    "There must be a mediator in the negotiation process with Spain. This is a prerequisite", Torra said during a meeting with mayors of the French region of Pyrenees-Orientales, also known as Northern Catalonia.

    The Catalan leader on Friday stated once again that the goal of the Catalan government is to hold another independence referendum in order to allow the region’s population to decide its own future. Torra also demands amnesty for Catalan politicians who were sentenced in connection with a 2017 independence referendum that Madrid deemed illegal.

    On Thursday, the Catalan parliament ratified a motion calling for the participation of international mediators in a dialogue between the two parties. The Spanish government has been opposed to any third-party help in discussions. Sanchez reiterated this stance on Thursday in his first meeting in over a year with Torra, by saying that the country's population would act as mediators.

    Sanchez has presented a 44-item agenda to Torra, offering a roadmap out of the constitutional crisis. The Spanish leader promised a sincere dialogue with his Catalan counterparts, although the region’s independence will not be sanctioned by Madrid.

    Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain
    © REUTERS / Albert Gea
    Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain

    The Spanish prime minister struck a deal with Catalan lawmakers to re-open talks in exchange for their abstentions during a parliamentary vote to form a coalition government that he would lead. Two rounds of voting took place in the first week of January, with Sanchez winning the second ballot that required a simple majority in parliament.

    On October 1, 2017, Catalonia held a referendum in which over 90 percent of voters supported the region’s independence from Spain. Madrid declared the referendum illegal and arrested a number of pro-independence leaders.

    2017 Catalan independence referendum, Catalonia, Spain
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