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Catalan leader urges show of strength to clinch independence

BARCELONA, Spain — Catalan President Quim Torra is urging a massive turnout at upcoming public gatherings, saying it will help compel the Spanish government to grant the region a vote on self-determination.

Torra said Tuesday in Barcelona that he is ready to enter talks with the government in Madrid and that he rejects violence, but added he will only settle for “freedom.”

Torra said in a much-anticipated speech at Catalonia’s National Theater that the region “is at a crossroads” in its drive for independence.

He says events later this month and in October present an “enormous challenge” for the separatist movement as it tries to gain traction again after a series of legal setbacks.

Nine prominent separatist leaders are in Spanish jails awaiting trial on charges for their part in the secession drive.