SPAIN - Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Tuesday hailed the decision by Catalan leaders to call off a planned vote on independence as "excellent news" and indicated he was ready for talks on the issue.
That announcement "is excellent news. It is everyone's obligation to respect the law," Rajoy told an economic forum in Madrid on Tuesday, adding that his government was ready for "dialogue" with Catalonia.
Rajoy has fiercely opposed the plan to let the rich northeastern region vote on whether to break away from Spain but Catalan leaders had vowed to push ahead with it, generating a tense standoff with Madrid.
Spain's Constitutional Court last month suspended legal measures passed by the Catalan regional parliament to organise a vote, which Rajoy fiercely opposed.
During a meeting of pro-referendum parties on Monday, the Catalan government "determined that the vote can't take place," Joan Herrera, a lawmaker with the tiny leftist Initiative for Catalonia party, told reporters.
Herrera said Catalonia's nationalist government, led by Artur Mas, would announce an alternative proposal on Tuesday. Mas was due to make a public address about 0800 GMT.