Catalan leader insists on holding secession vote

MADRID (AP) The leader of Spain's economically powerful Catalonia region has told Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy he intends pushing ahead with a secession referendum in November despite the central government's refusal to allow it.

Speaking after a 2-hour landmark meeting with Rajoy on Wednesday, Catalonia President Artur Mas said that although there was no agreement on the referendum issue, there was a willingness on both sides to keep talking, and that was positive.

Mas said Catalonia wants the Nov. 9 referendum to be held legally and, if possible, with Madrid's blessing.

The independence campaign holds profound consequences for Spain as it emerges from a severe economic crisis. Europe will be watching the debate closely as Scotland also prepares to hold a vote in September on breaking away from Britain.