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Spain PM rejects ousted Catalan leader's call to meet

AFP , Friday 22 Dec 2017
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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday rejected a call by ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to meet after separatists won a parliamentary majority in crucial regional polls.

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

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

The prime minister meanwhile warned that the new Catalan government should fully respect the law.

This statement was a reference to the former government's defiance on October 1, when it went held a referendum on independence despite a constitutional ban.

Catalan lawmakers went on to declare independence, prompting Madrid to sack Puigdemont's government and dissolve the parliament.

It was then that Rajoy's government called snap polls in Catalonia.

Rajoy also said that he was ready for "open, constructive and realistic dialogue" -- but "always within the limits of legality".

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