Status of high stakes Spain-Catalonia standoff

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Catalonia is once again interested in holding talks, because we strongly believe that present conflict can be resolved, Puigdemont said, after regretting that both in the past and in the present they will not find out interlocutors to their sovereign claims.

The Catalan leader on Tuesday night pulled back from declaring immediate independence, instead calling for more dialogue with Spain in a bid to resolve the situation peacefully.

In a press conference after an extraordinary cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said "the cabinet meeting has agreed on formally asking Generalitat to clarify if they have declared the independence of Catalonia".

If independence had been declared, said Sánchez, then the PSOE would back the actions of the Spanish government.

On Tuesday, as Catalonia's regional legislature met to discuss whether to declare independence, national police units, deployed initially in the region to try to halt the recent October 1 independence referendum, reinforced their positions at transport hubs, including the worldwide airport and mainline railway stations.

Invoking Article 155 to ease Spain's worst political crisis in four decades would make prospects of a negotiated solution even more remote. Opponents of independence have largely boycotted referendum.

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Neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anybody else can impose, without returning to legality and democracy, a mediation, since dialogue between democrats is done within the law, as affirmed by Saenz de Santamaria.

He said his party and the government had agreed to "open the road to constitutional reform" in light of the Catalan crisis.

According to news media, among the measures taken by Rajoy to tackle down secessionist challenge is an eventual intervention of Catalonia's autonomy through the application of Article-155 of the Constitution.

But the Spanish government, buoyed by yesterday's protests in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, have made it clear it would respond immediately to any such vote. The rally propelled the main world stocks index, the MSCI's 47-country "All-World" index, to a record high.

At European Union headquarters in Brussels, there was relief that Spain, the euro zone's fourth-largest economy, now had at least bought some time to deal with a crisis that was still far from over. The EU has been cool to Puigdemont's calls for European mediation. A stream of Catalonia-based firms and banks have moved their legal bases outside the region.

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