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Catalonia Defiant as Spain Court Stops Secession Motion

Spain's Constitutional Court on Wednesday suspended a resolution passed by Catalonia's parliament that declared the start of a secession process, at the request of the central government in Madrid.

After several hours of deliberation, the court accepted a lawsuit filed by the conservative central government against the resolution, which was passed by Catalonia's regional parliament on Monday.

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Catalan Parliament Kicks off Secession from Spain

Lawmakers in Catalonia officially kicked off a process to secede from Spain by 2017 despite impassioned pleas against independence, in an unprecedented showdown with Madrid's central government.

All 72 pro-independence lawmakers -- the majority in the regional parliament -- voted for a resolution to secede from the rest of the country, drawing huge applause that drowned out opposition MPs holding Spanish flags.

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Spanish Police Break Up 'Terrorist Cell' in Madrid

Spanish authorities said Tuesday they had broken up a "terrorist cell" linked to the Islamic State jihadist group with the arrest of three Moroccan men who aimed to carry out attacks in Madrid.

Police arrested the trio, legal residents of Spain between the ages of 26 and 29, in pre-dawn raids in two neighborhoods of the capital Madrid, the interior ministry said in a statement.

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Catalonia Cannot Claim Right to Self-Determination, Says U.N. Chief

The United Nations does not view Spain's separatist-ruled Catalonia region as having the right to self-determination, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in an interview published Saturday.

"Spain is an independent and sovereign country that includes the Catalan region," Ban told four Spanish newspapers, El Pais, El Mundo, ABC and La Vanguardia.

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Catalan Parliament Opens with Pro-Independence Majority

The Catalan regional assembly opened a new session Monday dominated for the first time by a secessionist majority that has vowed to break away from Spain within 18 months.

"We represent a sovereign parliament which wants to represent a free people. We are transitioning from a regional parliament with limited powers to a national parliament with full capabilities," said Carme Forcadell, the parliament's new president.

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Spain's Podemos Runs out of Steam ahead of Election

Two months before general elections, Spain's new anti-austerity party Podemos appears to be running out of steam, hit by political setbacks and a slump in opinion polls.

Pablo Iglesias, the pony-tailed academic who leads the party, appeared tired and hesitant on Sunday during a televised debate with Albert Rivera who heads the new center-right Ciudadanos, adding to the sense that Podemos has lost momentum.

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Western Trio Seeks U.N. Action on Syria Barrel Bombs

Britain, France and Spain will soon present a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council on stopping the Syrian regime from using barrel bombs, the French envoy said Thursday.

But it remains highly unlikely that Russia, Syria's ally, would support such a measure, which comes amid fierce Western criticism of Moscow's air war in Syria.

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Catalan Separatists in Court over Independence Vote

Spanish judges on Tuesday started questioning Catalan officials charged with breaking the law by holding a vote last year on their contested drive for independence from Spain.

Regional education minister Irene Rigau arrived at Barcelona Provincial Court on Tuesday morning accompanied by fellow members of Catalonia's government and other separatist leaders.

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Spanish King Pleads with Europe Not to Let Refugees down

Spain's King Felipe VI on Wednesday pleaded with Europeans not to let down the waves of refugees seeking peace and prosperity in the EU.

"There are hundreds of thousands of refugees now coming into Europe full of hope because they see Europe as an area of peace, justice and prosperity," Felipe said in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

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Spanish Police Find Migrant in Spare Wheel Well of Car

Spanish police said Thursday they found a migrant hidden inside the spare wheel well of a car that arrived at the southern port of Algeciras by ferry from Morocco.

Police said in a statement that the female driver of the car became "very nervous and evasive" when they asked her to open the trunk of vehicle after it arrived from Tangiers.

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