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Spain's PM Rajoy willing to talk with future Catalan regional government

Pascal Guyot, AFP | Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (L) and President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont arrive for a mass to commemorate victims of terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, at the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona on August 20, 2017.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Friday that he is ready for talks with any future regional government of Catalonia, after the separatist parties emerged victorious in Thursday’s crucial vote.

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Rajoy says he expects a “new era based on dialogue” will begin in Catalonia following a regional election that exposed the sharp divisions between citizens for and against independence.

However, replying to a journalist who asked whether he would respond to ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's invitation for a meeting, Rajoy said: "The person I should be meeting with is with the one who won the elections, and that is Mrs Arrimadas."

Rajoy was referring to centrist, anti-independence candidate Ines Arrimadas, whose Ciudadanos party won the best individual result in Thursday's poll -- even though the bloc of separatist parties maintained its absolute majority.

'Tensions within the pro-independence parties will need to be solved’, Caroline Gray, Politics and Spanish lecturer at Aston University, UK

Vote exposes divisions

Rajoy called for the snap election held Thursday after ousting the pro-secession government in the region, hoping to stop the movement’s move to break away from Spain.

Rajoy said during a news conference Friday that the election’s outcome, which also gave the pro-Spain Ciutadans (Citizens) party the most votes, showed a diversity of views in Catalonia that compel the new government to abide by the law.

The prime minister added that he will talk with the new leaders as long as they don’t violate Spain’s Constitution.

The previous government held an independence referendum that Spanish courts said was unconstitutional.

'Election has gained legality for Catalan region', Marian Arribas-Tome, University of East Anglia, UK

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)

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