Trump sides against Catalan independence, says Spain 'should remain united'

Madrid and Barcelona clash over control of the Catalonia police force

The Catalan regional government, which plans to declare independence within 48 hours of a "yes" victory, maintained on Tuesday the vote will go ahead and it sent out notifications to Catalans to man polling booths across the region.

On Monday - a day before Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House - I read Nauert's remarks to Sanders and asked if the US would endorse an independent Catalonia after the controversial vote Sunday. "All the referendum's logistics have been dismantled", the Spanish government's representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo, told reporters in Barcelona.

With five days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia's pro-separatist government and Madrid is increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and worldwide opinion. Should the vote take place, a "yes" vote is likely, given that most of the 40 percent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.

Catalonia's leaders retort they have a right to decide their future even if it's not allowed by the constitution.

"I can say only, speaking for myself, I would like to see Spain continue to be united", Trump said when asked about the referendum, which is challenging Rajoy's leadership.

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The Spanish prime minister asked Catalan officials to return to "common sense" while Trump dubbed any attempts to separate from Spain as a foolish step.

Police have already arrested several regional officials and state prosecutors are threatening to charge "collaborators" in the referendum.

In November 2014, Catalonia's government held an informal referendum in which more than 80% voted in favour of independence.

Calling the referendum "anti-democratic and illegal", the deputy PM insisted that it "would not be possible" to happen.

"We will let the government and the people there work it out, and we will work with whatever government or entity that comes out of it", Nauert said. The separatists who now govern the wealthy region in northeastern Spain often make references to the short-lived 1931-1939 republic crushed by General Francisco Franco after a three-year civil war.

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