Secessionist Torra sworn in as Catalonia new leader

Mariano Rajoy agrees to talks with new Catalan chief Quim Torra

The Prime Minister of Spain agreed to meet with the new head of Catalonia

A Belgian judge on Wednesday rejected the extradition request by Spain of three former Catalan ministers over their region's controversial independence drive, the court said.

"No (Catalan) independence has happened, no (Catalan) republic has come into being, nor will it", Rajoy said during an official visit to Bulgaria.

Puigdemont was arrested in Germany on the Spanish warrant last month but a German court refused to extradite him on the rebellion charge.

The ruling scuppers the Spanish government's attempt to put the MPs, who fled to Belgium with ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, on trial for rebellion and misuse of public funds.

The European arrest warrants - which were issued, dropped and then later reinstated by Spain - were not valid, the Brussels court ruled yesterday.

The spat over Catalonia's future has brought Spain's worst political crisis in decades, though its three main political parties stand united against Catalan independence. Prosecutors say that Spain can not appeal the decision. Madrid dismissed the regional government following the declaration and jailed some Catalan politicians, who stayed in the country.

Fervent Catalan secessionist Quim Torra was sworn in Thursday as the restive Spanish region's new leader, with his demands for an independent Catalonia set to prolong a standoff with Spain's national government.

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