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Catalan Leader Freezes Independence Bid, Seeks Talks With Madrid

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said that the region "earned the right to independence" from Spain, but added that any declaration of independence would be suspended to facilitate a dialogue with Madrid.

Addressing the regional parliament in Barcelona on October 10, Puigdemont did not give any definite date for a declaration of independence, but he called for several weeks of dialogue.

He said that the "people's will" was to break away from Madrid, but that he wants to "de-escalate" the tension around the issue.

A central government spokesman said it was "unacceptable to make a tacit declaration of independence to then suspend it in an explicit manner."

Separatist politicians have said they expect a declaration based on the October 1 referendum, in which Catalan officials say people voted overwhelmingly for secession from Spain.

But there were also growing demands for Puigdemont to drop plans to break away.

The Madrid government rejected the vote as illegal and Spain's Constitutional Court suspended it.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters