The Latest: Barcelona mayor calls for European mediation

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BARCELONA, Spain — The Latest on Spain’s political crisis amid Catalonia’s push for independence (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

The mayor of Barcelona is calling for European institutions to consider setting up a task force of experts to mediate in the political deadlock between the Spanish and Catalan governments.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau met Thursday with consular representatives of European countries and shared with them the need for a “multilevel task force under a European umbrella” for both sides to sit for talks with the help of academics, jurists and regional lawmakers of all parties.

Officials in the European Union have called for dialogue, but have supported Spain’s conservative government in blaming the political crisis on Catalonia’s regional government.

The ruling Catalan coalition and other separatist politicians have declared valid the results of a referendum on Oct. 1 that was held amid police violence and against a Constitutional Court suspension.

EU officials have also said that Catalan government’s bid for independence is an internal Spanish affair.

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6:50 p.m.

An online Spanish Catholic magazine says Pope Francis has reiterated his opposition to Catalonia’s self-determination moves.

Vida Nueva (New Life) internet publication said the pope told Spain’s new ambassador to the Vatican, Gerardo Bugallo, that the Holy See is against all self-determination moves that are outside decolonization processes.

In the meeting Monday, the pope told Bugallo that the Vatican also rejected attitudes that do not respect the law.

The Spain-Catalonia crisis is coming to a crux as the region prepares to use referendum results to proclaim independence, possibly on Monday.

The Vatican spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the Vida Nueva report, which was written by a Spanish journalist who works in the embassy.

Francis has made clear in the past that he opposes independence for Catalonia, making a distinction between independence movements in Catalonia and Scotland, for example, and the colonial-era movements that gave Latin American countries independence from the Spanish crown. These, he said, were emancipations, whereas secession is a move toward the breakup, or “Balkanization” of a country.

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6:20 p.m.

Spanish media reports say executives of Banco Sabadell, one of Catalonia’s largest banks and Spain’s fifth in terms of volume of assets, have agreed to relocate the bank’s base outside of the troubled Catalonia region.

Banco Sabadell’s registration will be moved to the eastern city of Alicante, but the physical headquarters will remain in the Catalan regional capital, Barcelona, according to the Spanish private news agency Europa Press.

Citing Sabadell sources, Europa Press said the reason for the move was to protect the interests of the banks’ customers and ensure legal protection under the umbrella of the European Central Bank as Catalonia’s mull an independence declaration.

Banco Sabadell couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The bank’s shares, which have seen heavy losses in recent days, surged more than 6 percent at the end of trading on Thursday.

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6:10 p.m.

Spain’s third largest bank in terms of volume of assets is considering a relocation of its registration outside of Catalonia but says nothing has been decided yet while executives follow developments of the secession bid in the northeastern region.

Barcelona-based Caixabank “reiterates that the necessary decisions will be taken, in due course, always with the objective of protecting the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees at all times.”

A bank spokesman, who couldn’t be named under company policy, said that according to internal rules, the bank’s board would need permission from its shareholders.

—By Aritz Parra.

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3:40 p.m.

Spain’s Prime Minister has urged the separatist leader of the regional Catalan government to cancel plans for declaring independence in northeastern region, in order to avoid “greater evils.”

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