Talks come as Catalonians appear equally split on leaving Spain to form independent country

Spain’s prime minister and Catalonia’s leader met Wednesday to restart negotiations in hopes of finding a solution to the ongoing political crisis caused by the region’s separatist movement, the Associated Press reports.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is sitting down with regional president Pere Aragonès at the seat of the Catalan government in downtown Barcelona. Expectations are low for any huge advances from the meeting which has caused a rift within the separatist camp. Aragonès and his Republican Left of Catalonia party call the talks a “historic opportunity.”

But leaders of the junior party in Aragonès’ government have publicly voiced their doubts about the chances that there will be any real gains for the separatists. The influential grassroots group National Catalan Assembly goes further, saying that the talks will only serve to derail their cause.

The talks come with 7.5 million Catalans entrenched into two roughly equal camps. Polls and election results over the past five years consistently show that half of Catalonia wants to remain in Spain, while the other half wants to sever all ties.

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