Merkel backs Spanish leader's stance in opposing secession referendum for Catalan region

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's opposition to a proposed independence referendum in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia.

Speaking alongside Rajoy on Monday, Merkel said that while the Catalan question was an internal Spanish one, she thought Rajoy's views were logical and deserved support.

Rajoy described the referendum as "a mad idea" and reiterated it would not be held because it was illegal. He said it went against the trend toward greater unity within the European Union.

The regional government of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, insists it will hold the referendum on Nov. 9.

Merkel and Rajoy were speaking in the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela on the second day of a two-day visit by the German leader.