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Spanish King Meets Party Leaders to Form New Government

Spain's King Felipe VI began Monday a week of meetings with party leaders in a bid to break a potentially damaging impasse over the formation of a new government following inconclusive elections.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has headed a caretaker government with reduced powers since a December 20 general election produced a hung parliament in which a ruling majority cannot easily be formed.

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Spain's Podemos Urged to Explain Alleged Iranian Funding Link

Spain's conservative Popular Party on Thursday demanded explanations from far-left party Podemos after media reports that police had opened an investigation into alleged illegal party financing from Iran.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias "must explain... the role he played in the very serious affair of illegal financing by a regime like the Iranian regime," the Popular Party's spokesman in parliament, Rafael Hernando, said.

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Spain's Divided Parliament Convenes at Time of Political Turmoil

Spain's parliament held its first session Wednesday, with lawmakers from four main parties taking their seats at a time of political turmoil, intensified by a resurgent secessionist threat in the Catalonia region.

Lawmakers picked a Socialist, Patxi Lopez, a former head of the regional government of the northern Basque Country, as parliamentary speaker, in the first pact between rival parties still engaged in talks to form a government since last month's inconclusive election.

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Thousands March in Bilbao for Return of ETA Prisoners

Tens of thousands protested in Bilbao, northern Spain, on Saturday calling for the return of more than 400 prisoners linked to the Basque separatist group ETA who are being held outside the region.

Families of the convicts, who are dispersed across 73 prisons in France and Spain, led the march in the Basque region's most populous city.

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Three Tons of Cocaine Seized, 12 Arrested in Spain Drugs Bust

Spanish police said Tuesday they had seized three tons of cocaine and arrested twelve suspected drug smugglers from Spain, Britain and The Netherlands in a major drugs bust in the north of the country.

The seizure in the northwestern Galicia region was "the biggest for this type of drug on Galician soil since 1999", the police said in a statement, without revealing when the operation took place.

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Catalan Party in Key Meeting on Backing Separatist Government

Members of a far-left Catalan separatist party gathered Sunday to decide whether to back the formation of a new government led by outgoing Catalan president Artur Mas that would work towards breaking away from Spain.

Separatists won a majority of seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament for the first time in a September election in the wealthy northeastern region of Spain which is home to 7.5 million people.

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Spain's Socialists Refuse to Back Rajoy Bid to Form New Govt.

The leader of Spain's Socialists said Wednesday his party will not back acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's bid to form a new government following an inclusive weekend election.

"We were clear: we will vote against the continuity of the Popular Party at the helm of the government, with Mariano Rajoy as prime minister," Pedro Sanchez told a news conference after holding talks with Rajoy for the first time since Sunday's election.

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Spain PM Battles to Stay in Power as New Parties Rise

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faced an uphill battle to stay in power on Monday after his conservatives lost their majority in an election that saw dynamic new political groupings end decades of two-party rule.

For more than 30 years, Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists had alternated power, but millions of Spaniards exasperated with austerity and corruption scandals voted relative newcomers Podemos and center-right Ciudadanos into third and fourth place.

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Mariano Rajoy: Spain's No-Frills, Austere Conservative

Mariano Rajoy, who has the uphill task of trying to form a coalition government in Spain after his party won elections without an absolute majority, has turned his perceived dullness into a political strength.

Positioning himself as a safe pair of hands who saved the country from economic collapse, Rajoy secured a narrow victory for his conservative Popular Party but now has to enter negotiations with other political groupings to continue leading Spain, or attempt to rule with a minority government.

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Lebanese Boy Orphaned by Dahieh Blasts Fulfills Dream of Meeting Ronaldo

Lebanese toddler Haidar Mustafa, 3, has fulfilled his dream of meeting Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, 36 days after losing his parents in the Bourj al-Barajneh bombings.

Haidar arrived Friday in the Spanish capital Madrid and was welcomed by Cristiano at the airport.

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