Torra offers to meet with Sánchez during his visit to Barcelona
President calls on Spanish president to take advantage of his trip to talk, while mayor Colau urges both leaders to find a way to "deescalate the conflict"
President Quim Torra offered to meet with Pedro Sánchez on Monday, during the acting Spanish president's trip to Barcelona to visit police officers injured in the recent protests against the sentencing of Catalan independence leaders.
In a letter, Torra tells Sánchez, "as we have been informed by the media of your visit to Catalonia, I wanted to notify you of my availability to meet with you today," expressing his "wish" to speak with the Spanish leader "without imposing any conditions."
Torra also regrets that Sánchez chose not to speak on the phone. "As you know, I called you twice this past weekend and both times you were unwilling to take my call. I must say that I do not take that as a positive sign of a willingness to engage in dialogue," he writes.
Torra's letter was also a response to a missive from Sánchez calling on the Catalan president to "roundly" condemn the recent violent protests, a charge Torra rejected at the weekend, saying "I have always fought against and condemned violence."
Sánchez's letter to Torra also reminded the Catalan president that he has a duty to ensure the safety of the public and preserve social harmony, obligations that the acting Spanish president said Torra had failed to live up to in recent days.
In his reply on Monday, Torra referred to "the obligations of any leader," which he said consist of respecting "citizens’ human, civil and political rights," fostering dialogue "with those who think differently," and allowing citizens "to express themselves democratically."
Colau gets call from Sánchez
However, Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, said on Monday that she had received a call from Sánchez, in which she urged the Spanish president to talk to Torra. "We should always answer the phone," the mayor said on Catalunya Ràdio.
Colau added that if the two presidents were not going to talk with each other for the moment, then they should at least find another way to begin "deescalating the conflict," and she offered herself as a possible intermediary.
Spanish president visits injured officers
While rejecting to meet Quim Torra, Sánchez focused on meeting police officers injured in different hospitals in Barcelona, as well as those in the headquarters building on Via Laietana.
Accompanied by Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Sánchez gave his "acknowledgment, thanks, solidarity and support" to the National Police corps on Via Laietana, telling him that demonstrators "probably want to persist with this crisis, but we are stubborn."
According to Sánchez, "it is clear that the radicals and violent groups have decided that Barcelona is the theater of operations." Following meeting with police, the Socialist leader then met with some injured journalists.
By roughly 1.30 pm, the acting Spanish president concluded his visit to Barcelona without meeting Quim Torra.