• Merkel stresses ‘Spanish unity’ in call with Rajoy


    BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed her backing for the “unity of Spain” in a phone call with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy amid a threat by Catalan separatists to declare independence, her spokesman said Monday.

    In the weekend phone call, Merkel “affirmed her backing for the unity of Spain, and both sides exchanged views on ways in which internal Spanish dialogue can be boosted within the framework of the constitution,” said spokesman Steffen Seibert.

    Spain lurched into its worst political crisis in decades after Catalonia held a vote on independence on October 1 in defiance of the Spanish government and courts.

    A violent crackdown by police seeking to thwart the vote in the region sparked an international outcry.

    Seibert last week declined comment on the police violence that left hundreds of people injured, saying it was “not my task to assess police operations in Spain”.

    He also said then that Merkel was not seeking to mediate between parties in the Spanish dispute.

    Rajoy has issued a stern warning to Catalan leaders who have said they could declare independence this week.

    He did not rule out moving to stop that by suspending Catalonia’s regional autonomy, at the risk of sparking unrest. AFP



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