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Thousands urge Spanish and Catalan leaders to negotiate

Mass rallies held with slogan 'Shall We Talk?' in a bid to push politicians on either side to start discussion.

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Thousands of people attended the rally in Barcelona [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

Thousands of people, many dressed in white, have rallied in Madrid and Barcelona, calling for talks to defuse Spain’s worst political crisis for decades amid Catalonia’s threat to secede.

The rallies in the Spanish capital and the Catalan city were held with the slogan “Shall We Talk?” in an effort to push politicians in both cities to end months of silence and start negotiating.

The wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, with its own language and culture, has long claimed to be distinct from the rest of the country and on Sunday held a referendum on breaking away Spain, a vote the constitutional court had banned.

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