Europe

Spain PM holds first talks with Catalan pro-secession leader

  • Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, speaks with Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Rajoy held his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface. The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)

    Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, speaks with Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Rajoy held his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface. The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)  (The Associated Press)

  • Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, shakes hands with Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Rajoy held his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface. The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)

    Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, shakes hands with Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Rajoy held his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface. The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)  (The Associated Press)

  • Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, shakes hands with Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Rajoy held his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface. The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)

    Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, shakes hands with Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Rajoy held his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface. The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid. (AP Photo/Paul White)  (The Associated Press)

Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will hold his first official meeting with Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Carles Puigdemont, with talks likely to center on the region's finances although the secession issue is certain to surface.

Puigdemont took office in January, promising to push ahead with his coalition government's secession plans. Rajoy, who heads Spain's caretaker government since a Dec. 30 inconclusive election, is likely to reiterate his steadfast opposition to Catalonia's independence in Wednesday's meeting.

The independence drive has gathered force in recent years after Catalonia failed to win more financing concessions from Madrid.

Pro-secession parties hold a slim majority in the Catalan regional parliament but the region of 7.5 million people is evenly divided over splitting from Spain.

Catalonia accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain's economic output.