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Spanish government meets with Catalan separatist leaders

Spain's deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo, met with Catalan’s Vice President Pere Aragones and spokesperson, Elsa Artadi in Madrid on Thursday. 

The meeting came a day after the detaining of 13 activists, a separatist mayor, and a journalist on Wednesday for allegedly disrupting a high-speed rail line on October 1, 2018, the anniversary of the independence referendum, which was rejected by Madrid as 'illegal'. 

The Catalan government has insisted that these detentions were illegal as they were not court ordered. 

Negotiations with Catalan’s leaders was initiated by Pedro Sanchez who took office last June. This was due to a vote of no-confidence in the Conservative government, and that Sanchez enjoys the support of Catalan separatist parties. 

Sanchez needs to pass Spain’s draft budget and will likely need Catalan support, as he leads a minority government, having only 84 out of 350 lawmakers.

On December 20, he met with the regional leader Quim Torra in Barcelona where both agreed to “an effective dialogue which will lead to a political proposal which has widespread support among Catalan society".

It is however unlikely that the draft budget will be passed and whilst he has taken a more conciliatory tone towards Catalan there is doubt there will be much progress in terms of Catalan’s desire for self-determination.