Catalonia election: Puigdemont calls for talks with Spain

Catalonia’s ousted leader, Carles Puigdemont, has called for new talks with Spain after separatist parties won a slim majority in a regional election.

He said he wanted the negotiations in Brussels, where he is living in self-imposed exile, or another EU country.

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Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy later appeared to reject the idea.

He said he would hold talks with the head of the new Catalan government but that leader would have to take up their post in Catalonia itself.

He avoided naming Mr Puigdemont, adding that the winner of Thursday’s election was Inés Arrimadas, the leader of the Citizens party, which wants Catalonia to remain a semi-autonomous part of Spain.

The Citizens party is now the region’s biggest party. although pro-independence parties are best placed to form a government.

“Catalonia wants to be an independent state,” said Mr Puigdemont, speaking in Belgium on Friday. “This is the wish of the Catalan people. I think the plan of [Spanish Prime Minister] Mariano Rajoy is not working, so we have to find new ways to tackle this crisis.”

Mr Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) recorded its worst ever result in Thursday’s vote.

He had hoped that the poll would restore stability and said the Spanish government was “willing to talk in a realistic way and inside the law” with a future Catalan government.

“I offer Catalonia this because we care about the people” he said.

The Spanish government imposed direct rule on Catalonia and called the election after declaring an October independence referendum illegal.

Mr Puigdemont has also called on the prime minister to repatriate all the police sent to Catalonia before the referendum.

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